where was the “vinyl rapture” before the “vinylgeddon”?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

WHILE THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG is to ad­dress the records that were re­leased decades be­fore most of the people who spend the most time on the in­ternet were even born, I can look at a cur­rent topic every now and again. I sup­pose my fas­ci­na­tion with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in not es­tab­lishing some ob­jec­tive stan­dards for el­i­gi­bility and the equally ob­sti­nate Wikipedia in in­sisting on “sources” but not on hiring ed­i­tors to fact-check those sources.

And now there’s this: The man­u­fac­turing and storage fa­cility for Apollo Mas­ters, which sup­plied ap­prox­i­mately 80% of the blank lac­quer master discs used for making master discs to record com­pa­nies around the world, has burned down. The com­pany sup­plied ap­prox­i­mately 80 per­cent of the blank lac­quer master discs used for making master discs to record com­pa­nies around the world.


One of only two man­u­fac­turers of the lac­quers nec­es­sary to create vinyl records suf­fered cat­a­strophic damage in a fire.


The plant is lo­cated in Ban­ning, Cal­i­fornia, which is eighty miles east of Los An­geles. Along with tiny MDC in Japan, Apollo Mas­ters was one of only two man­u­fac­turers in the world that made the lac­quers nec­es­sary to create vinyl records.

The fire oc­curred on Feb­ruary 7, 2020. A state­ment from the com­pany called the blaze “dev­as­tating” and that the plant “suf­fered cat­a­strophic damage.” While the state­ment claimed that no em­ployees were harmed, it in­cluded, “We are un­cer­tain of our fu­ture at this point.” (Apollo web­site)

As the market for new vinyl records has been growing reg­u­larly since the be­gin­ning of this cen­tury, this could be a se­rious blow to the ability of record com­pa­nies to con­tinue to meed the im­me­diate need for 45s and LPs. The company’s founder, Gil Tamazyan, be­lieves that the fire “will cause a hin­drance in some major way. Un­less some­thing hap­pens re­ally quickly, there will soon be Vinylgeddon.”


Apollo fire lacquer machine 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is an Apollo lac­quer being cut at the mas­tering lab of Ana­logue Media Tech­nolo­gies / Duplication.CA (2020). This com­pany tweeted that the Apollo fire was a “dis­aster for the vinyl pressing in­dustry” and pre­dicted “a lac­quer shortage and pos­sibly plants having to close or scale back op­er­a­tions for a while.”


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Yes, I have fol­lowed any up­dates on this since it was first an­nounced. On aard­vark mastering.com and News Channel 3: Sam Smith, G.M. of Apollo Mas­ters said that “Without us, you’re not going to do too much un­less you know how to make it and the for­mula is gone.” If I in­ter­pret this state­ment lit­er­ally, well I don’t know if I can handle it. Only AAA re­leases should have the re­maining lac­quers and only for LPs (not dig­ital or DMM).

Yes, 7″ 45’s will wait, per­haps come around after supply in­creases if that hap­pens. We have to ac­cept that making good use of the space on the re­maining lac­quer is top pri­ority. This will im­pact us all. This is the re­sult, I feel, of man­u­fac­turing leaving the country going on 50 years now and not a pri­ority here as it once was.

All of this is in my opinion.

Neal, the gen­tleman in Japan is swamped with al­ready ap­proved or­ders and clients. I feel Uni­versal should try to make up for their lax vaulting of master tapes (storing next to King Kong in their amuse­ment park?) and pony up the all the dough to start im­me­di­ately a lac­quer plant. Good P.R. to make some amends for the to­tally un­nec­es­sary loss they had. Their keeping it a se­cret for umpteen years just seals it for me.

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