Record revival: The first NZ vinyl press since 1987 opens in Auckland

Record revival: The first NZ vinyl press since 1987 opens in Auckland

August 7, 2019 0 By Kailee Schamberger


Rumour has it that the last vinyl press in New Zealand was ripped for scrap metal, with its remains pushed into Wellington harbour That was back in September, 1987. Vinyl was dead. Or, at least, it was supposed to be In Auckland on Friday night, vinyl was revived with the release of the first batch of locally made and pressed vinyl records in 32 years Music industry watchers have, recently, been almost obsessed with reports talking up the unwavering and often growing popularity of vinyl A format that was supposed to have died decades ago is now being championed by young music lovers who, in the age of streaming, prefer the old analogue format In the heart of Auckland city, downhill from the Sky Tower in an area that tries to keep its industrial look for nothing but aesthetic, is the focal point of New Zealand’s vinyl revolution  READ MORE: * Max Christoffersen: Record lovers’ vinyl passion beyond me * The tables are turning as vinyl records continue to rise in popularity * Vinyl record sales overtake digital music in UK * Vinyl makes a comeback in world of Spotify It’s being led by two 28-year-old mates, Ben Wallace and Joel Woods Before they started work to make their vinyl dreams a reality last year, Wallace used to be a residential property developer Woods was a criminal lawyer. Now, they operate New Zealand’s only vinyl press. Their first batch of records rolled off the press last week, ahead of the official release on Friday night For an industry that seemed to be going in the direction of video stores, Wallace and Woods say the decision to invest in a big record press was simple They found a company in Toronto, Canada, which had started making automated vinyl presses Wallace says he’s sure there will be demand for their press, given their closest competition is a single plant in Australia He says he talked to plenty of bands who had ordered from the US, to be sent expensive poor quality records they couldn’t even sell “I think ‘New Zealand artist’ gets put at the bottom of the pile. That, with the freight costs, puts people off vinyl,” he says   Woods says the automated press meant relative amateurs, like them, could feasibly start pressing commercial quality records The only issue was the cost.  While the business partners won’t say how much it’s cost so far, it’s fair to say it wasn’t cheap The press, which sits out the back of their Auckland city shop, needed three shipping containers to get it here Then, they needed to manouevre it into their small space before flying over a technician to set it up On top of that, they need to get all their vinyl wax from Italy, and Auckland city floor space is hardly cheap Woods, however, is confident this will pay off. He says they chose the location to ramp up the public interest and now the press is in place, they won’t be moving “There’s a lot of interest around, from people who want to press vinyl but also the general public, about how music gets put on wax If they aren’t even into music, their minds still blow when they see this,” he says Demand for vinyl is growing, relative to the music industry as a whole. Tapes are well and truly dead, CDs are barely hanging on and Apple just announced it was killing its once revolutionary iTunes store Streaming is the main way to get music, but for some reason vinyl sales are staying strong In 2016, vinyl sales made the music industry more money than digital sales. The resurgence started around 2015 Record stores in New Zealand reported that vinyl made up about 80 per cent of their revenue in 2015, up from about 35 per cent five years earlier With their first batch of albums now in store, Wallace says they’re ready to start pressing more New Zealand music They’ve already run their second batch. Their first album, from indie rock band Mini Simmons, appears to have been a success Guitarist Brad Craig says the band got in early and coordinated their release so it could be the first off the press They haven’t bothered releasing it on any other physical format, he says there’s just no demand for anything other than vinyl or Spotify He says the vinyl resurgence is also changing how people think about music. His band makes an older style of fashionably not mainstream rock, so vinyl seemed like the perfect way of releasing their music Each record is complete with polaroid pictures of the band, and a one-off photo unique to each individual record “We had people last night buying this album who don’t even own a record player. But it’s a physical thing, a piece of merch,” he says And it also pays the bills. Because while vinyl sales rise, streaming giants pay far less than iTunes or CD sales used to  For Craig and his band mates, they know, this vinyl renaissance will either make or break their music careers