If you’re a vinyl collector, you may want to sit down. Apollo Masters, the California facility that supplies lacquer used for master discs, which are then used to manufacture vinyl records, suffered a devastating fire on Thursday, February 6 in Banning, CA at a manufacturing and storage facility. The fire caused complete destruction of the facility, but thankfully no employees were injured.
A message from Apollo Masters on their website says: “To all of wonderful customers. It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time. Thank you for all of the support over the years and the notes of encouragement and support we have received from you all.”
As reported by Pitchfork, Ben Blackwell, co-founder of Third Man Records said “From my understanding, this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide. There are only TWO companies that make lacquers in the world, and the other, MDC in Japan, already had trouble keeping up with demand BEFORE this development.” (emphasis is Blackwell’s)
Blackwell also noted that while there have been ‘whispers’ of other companies entering the lacquer marketplace, Apollo was the primary supplier of the styli used in the vinyl pressing process.
Duplication, a Toronto-based company offering vinyl, CD and DVD pressing and printing shared on Twitter, “Disaster for the vinyl pressing industry,” and “There will be a lacquer shortage and possibly plants having to close or scale back operations for a while.”
David Read of Duplication spoke with Smack Media about the potential loss, but offered a bit of hope for the path ahead, and how this crisis is not new for the industry either: “Everybody’s talking to each other and competitors are talking to each other. It’s in everybody’s best interest to get lacquer masters back up and running whether it be Apollo or someone else. When all of the plants closed in the ’90s, everybody was selling their records and then the vinyl resurgence happened and everyone (the last remaining manufacturers) got flooded.” Since then the vinyl industry has seen substantial annual growth with a renewed interest in record collecting.
For a more indepth look at the situation, check out the details here.