CALGARY — The pressing machine's equivalent of an odometer shows it has made 4,422,640 records, but owner Dean Reid is betting the ageless equipment has got lots of life left.
"It should be good for another 10,000,000,'' he says proudly.
Reid is the founder and chief operating officer of Canada Boy Vinyl, which opened its doors in September and purports to be the only place in Canada where bands can have their music pressed into vinyl to capitalize on a growing market for music nostalgia.
The 44-year-old spent 20 years in construction, playing bass guitar in his spare time, before he decided to take the plunge into a music industry that has become anything but a safe bet.
"I wanted to try and get involved in a career that was way more in line with what I love and am passionate about — and that is music,'' Reid says with a chuckle. "One of the things I was interested in was starting up a record label and I started doing some research into it. I quickly found out it can be one of the arguably worst businesses a guy could ever get into.''
Wearing camouflage pants and a white T-shirt with Canada Boy Vinyl emblazoned on the front, Reid looks more blue-collar than record company executive.
Reid started seeking out investors to help finance his dream in August 2013. A turning point was getting in touch with an individual in England who had some aging record-pressing equipment for sale.
The equipment, which saw its heyday in the 1970s, arrived in September and is now up and running.
The machines are capable of processing 65,000 to 70,000 records a week.
"Business is picking up very steadily. We've only been open for a month and we already have 53 orders in the queue right now. I've probably spoken to at least a couple of hundred bands.''
There are about 40 pressing plants in the world, but Canada Boy Vinyl is believed to be the only pressing plant in Canada. Montreal-based Rip-V ceased operations earlier this year, but that wasn't because of a lack of business.
A surge in popularity of vinyl records — a Nielsen Music Report says sales increased by 52 per cent in 2014 — meant there were more orders than the company could fill. Owner Philippe Dubuc says the company produced an estimated 400,000 records in 2014 and clients would gladly have given them twice the work.
Reid is happy to try to fill the void.
"I'll try and enjoy it while it lasts, but I can't be the only kid in the world with this idea. There's a certain barrier to market that I have right now in just getting the equipment itself and it's finding the people with the know-how and experience to get it to go.
"It's not like ... you were some rich kid and say: 'Dad can I have $3 million to go and start up a pressing plant?' You don't just go down to Home Depot and buy a record-pressing machine.''
Reid's target customer is anyone who wants to make a record.
"We serve small indie bands on small runs as well as larger record labels.''
He sees some humour in much of the interest in vinyl records coming from a younger demographic.
"There's just a whole new generation of younger people who are almost thinking that it's this new kind of media or something,'' he says.
"People are really catching on there's really a difference between an analog kind of sound and a digital kind of a sound. I'm definitely a big fan of the analog sound. It's way more warm and human and sort of tangible and a little more down to Earth.''
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