Vinyl isn’t as retro as you might think. The Tennessee Times Leader reports that Nashville’s United Record Pressing cranks out 20,000 to 40,000 records a day, making it one of the largest — and last — vinyl record manufacturers in the country.
Most of the discs are 12-inch singles destined for professional DJs at radio stations and dance clubs who still use vinyl records and turntables to mix, scratch and blend music.
“The record labels use us as a marketing tool to get that new track out there,” owner and CEO Cris Ashworth explained. “They’ll come to me on a Monday, want it out on Wednesday and played Friday or Saturday night at a club or radio station.”
Typically, the company will press four versions of the same song: a radio and club mix, as well as an instrumental and a cappella version so DJs can mix and manipulate the sound.
Ashworth’s company has managed to thrive by picking up business from competitors in a shrinking market. Today, he has only 13 competitors compared to several dozen before CDs took over in the ’90s. Revenues hit $5 million in 2004 and grew to $7 million in 2005.
“We want to be the last vinyl plant standing, no matter what,” he said. “There is no other plant that looks like this in the country. This is an antique.”