Why Vinyl Matters
Students should explore the article below and the discussion guide. Learn more by looking at the images and listening to the original source documents contained in the article. Use the info to discuss and answer the Essential Questions below in class.
- Learn about the vinyl record as a distribution tool
- Explore modern music and how it is distributed.
Why Vinyl is Different
When you listen to a vinyl record, you are hearing uncompressed music that sounds just like the artist envisioned it. There is no tone loss due to the compression of the music files, which happens when you hear streamed audio.
Vinyl is also known for the warm sound it provides. People tend to find that vinyl is a better approximation of hearing a live performance than when the recording is converted to a digital format.
What’s more, vinyl albums are sometimes produced with better dynamics during the mastering process as compared with digital audio files.
Archer was at one time the only Record Pressing Plant in Detroit
“It’s astounding that Archer remains one of the only record-pressing plants in Detroit, yet the company regularly has to turn away business. You would imagine somebody would be eager to fill that hole, though Mike tells us that those machines are practically impossible to buy nowadays, making the start of a new venture extremely difficult.
“Back in 1965, there was no pressing plants here in Detroit,” he says. “We were the first one, and we’re still the only one. With Motown here, you would think there’d be a pressing plant here, but there wasn’t. There was an independent plant [the American Record Pressing Company] out in Owosso, which is between Lansing and Flint. They did a bit of Motown work. Motown spread it out. Back in the day, they would make their records regional. For the Californian market, they would press them in California, for the East Coast market, they’d press them on the East Coast, just to lower the transportation charges. Here in the Midwest, we had that plant here in Owosso. As far as being in Detroit, we’ve always been the only one.”
Mike’s grandfather Norman Archer started the company in 1965, back when Detroit was crying out for a local pressing plant. The industry has changed significantly since then, of course, with eight tracks, cassettes, CDs, and now electronic downloads all threatening vinyl’s market share. Archer has managed to hang on throughout it all.”
Third Man Record’s Pressing Plant in Detroit
Jack White’s Third Man Records has changed the game by opening an ultra-modern boutique pressing plant in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit. His team is building a new model for record pressing by catering to independent labels and pressing small runs of custom vinyl. His team is able to produce artistic colored vinyl using state of art techniques and modern equipment that provides the highest quality sound. His space includes a stage and recording studio for live recording sessions. There is also a clothing boutique and a record store. His team has mastered small batch recording runs and they are democratizing the industry by hiring young people and training them for unique careers recording music using old-school techniques to make new music.
Visit the plant and learn more about the significance of Archer Record Press and independent record plants like it:
Why is there a need for specialized industries like record press facilities in Detroit?
How did having a record press in Detroit aid in the early distribution of vinyl by local artists?
What careers exist in the modern recording industry?