We are a Manchester based Vinyl & CD manufacturing company. Since 1992 we have been working with bands, artists, independent and major record labels offering a one-stop shop for making CD’s and Vinyl with a huge array of packaging options.
We have over 25 years experience of delivering high quality professional products to our clients. We work with the largest music industry pressing plants and printers in Europe.
By Kev Traynor
Will Shaw was working as a Vinyl Mastering Engineer at Hotnife cutting studios when I came to visit whilst studying sound engineering at the School of Sound Recording. We immediately got on well and not long after Will asked me to come and join him as an apprentice mastering engineer. And just like in Star Wars the apprentice became more powerful than the master (only joking mate).
After the closure of Hotnife we decided to buy the mastering equipment from the liquidators and set-up on our own. The only company in the UK to offer in house mastering with a vinyl pressing service.
As with many great moments in history, the exact dates and times have been forgotten. But I would guess sometime around late March or early April we came into existence.
Ducie House was occupied by recording studios, graphic designers, record labels and distributors. It even had its own bar and nightclub!
Around this time Manchester was world renowned for its music and clubbing scene and we were literally in the thick of it. On Fridays we devoted the day to cutting dubplates / one-off records for DJ’s and bands.
At night we would go to various clubs delivering the records to various DJ’s, it was great to hear a record you cut that afternoon being played in a packed club. I would describe it as unforgettable, but that wouldn’t be exactly true, it could get pretty wild.
We began to get asked if we could also provide CD mastering and CD manufacturing as well as vinyl, so we invested in one of these new fangled Digital Audio Workstations, a SADiE system. We became the first mastering studio outside of London to offer both vinyl and CD mastering.
On a sadder note this was the year we produced the last flexidisc, you will have to be a certain age to remember these flappy, thin little records. We had been making flexi disc covermounts for Jockey Slut magazine, after we finished April run our supplier, Orlake Records, tolds us we had used the last of the raw materials available and no more could be sourced. Farewell my flexible friend…..
]After 8 hard years I wanted to take a sabbatical and to go travelling. We decided to temporarily close the mastering studio whilst Will concentrated on the manufacturing side of the business. After I came back we planned to upgrade the mastering studio and move to a new custom built facility. However the CD Replication side of things was getting busier and busier, and we put the plans on hold. 20 years later and it is still in the planning stage, we must get the lathe back up and running……
We set-up one of those website things, to be honest we didn’t think many people would come to our website as we had no rude images. And we still sent orders by fax machine.
However other people had different ideas and file sharing websites like Napster began popping up. With the right software and an internet connection it was possible to download nearly any album you wanted, for free. The music industry went into panic mode. The industry lost some great independent labels during this period, some of them clients of ours. People told us that we might as well shut up shop and go home, manufacturing CD’s and vinyl had no future.
Napster was sued and shut down in 2001. We carried on as usual.
It was time for another move, and we left the “Sunset Suite” and travelled across town to Bexley Square.
Steve Jobs came along like a white knight on a steed (it would actually turnout to be a trojan horse) to save the music industry from piracy with his iTunes store, promoting legal paid for downloads. Where previously is was mainly nerdy teenagers downloading music from the internet for free, now large swathes of people began downloading legally.
Once again people told us that we might as well shut up shop and go home, manufacturing CD’s and vinyl had no future. We have carried on as usual.
At the time of writing (2018) music industry revenue from sales of CD’s and vinyl have overtaken revenue from downloads
A bunch of plucky Swedish tech guys launch what would become the largest free music streaming service, Spotify. This was a game changer. Once again people told us that we might as well shut up shop and go home, manufacturing CD’s and vinyl had no future.
10 years later Spotify has yet to make a profit. We have carried on as usual.
Streaming is an amazingly convenient way to consume music, Alexa play Despacito! The sad fact is that our clients are getting very little revenue from streaming, most are still making more from physical sales and performing live. Not what I would call progress.
We are still being told that making CD’s and vinyl is a dead end. Today we are making more CD’s than in the so called heyday of the late 90’s. How long will this last? I don’t know, but I have stopped listening to those who try tell me our industry is dead. We will carry on as usual.