2018 Making Vinyl Conference

Written by Bags Unlimited's Matt Oyer

2018 was yet another great year in the resurgence of the beloved vinyl record. This was Bags Unlimited’s second year(last year’s highlights) attending the Making Vinyl conference in Detroit Rock City and we, yet again, learned a lot about the industry and helped solidify connections with some of the most passionate people you could ever want to meet in the vinyl industry. In the next few paragraphs you’ll find some of the highlights of our conference experience and some pictures of the event.

In case you were not aware vinyl records have been on a major upswing in popularity for the past five or six years. There has always been the diehard collectors keeping the medium alive, and they are to be commended for their devotion, but vinyl is back in a big way among many new, mostly young, listeners.

With that new found mass market appeal comes the need for more and better production, enter Making Vinyl. The goal of the Making Vinyl group is to put the leaders of the record producing industry in touch with, not only one another but to up-and-comers who will help bolster and support the newly reimagined and redesigned vinyl manufacturing industry, as well as their ancillary industries.

The list of Making Vinyl sponsors is a variable who’s who of music industry players. All trusted names in the vinyl but also many new comers, and that’s what’s so exciting! There was so much passion in all of the talks about where the industry was headed, new mastering tech, what types of presses are coming online and how to make the most of the old equipment from 50 or 60 years ago on which many new records are still made. One thing I learned about the process of making records that I would’ve never guessed is that steam is one of the most important components and, unless you have a brand new steam-less press, you have to have a massive steam boiler to press vinyl; seems to be quite the hindering component to many newcomers who dream of pressing vinyl.

Brand New LP Cube System

But, as you may already know, Bags Unlimited Doesn’t press vinyl, we make SLEEVES as well as other protection and storage products! So, for us, packaging is the motivation for attending Making Vinyl. Here’s a little addition to our line that will be out soon! Our new POLY-Chrome sleeves are geared more towards the end user for organization but we got lots of compliments on the direction we’re headed as well as interest for different types of sleeves that will compliment all of the great products artists are dreaming up. And that’s what Making Vinyl is all about, how to bolster one another in a similar industry in a way that makes everyone look and function at a higher level!

Let’s take a look at some of the great album jackets that some of the amazing printers brought with them.

Unless you own the new Beck album Colors, you can’t tell how elaborate it is from this picture (sorry, my fault) and what an amazing job that Furnace did with his album Jacket. It’s a multi-layered masterpiece of an experience that goes along with Beck’s music. This short video will give you a little idea of how cool it is. They are one of the leaders in jacket manufacturing and are pressing beautiful new jackets as well as reissues.

Another awesome printer was the table right across from ours, Stoughton Printing. They had the coolest record jacket I’ve seen to date. Maybe it’s because I like the movie or maybe it’s just because the music is so incredibly synth but this The Thing jacket really did something for me.

The one talk I missed that I was hoping to catch was the about HD vinyl! That’s right HD Vinyl! HD Vinyl promises things those of us who grew up with mainstream CD culture have been hoping for; the sound of vinyl with the album length of the CD. That has long been my largest complaint with records. My favorite band, Type O Negative put out records that were upwards of 80 minutes. I don’t want to have to flip two or more records over to listen to one album. Maybe I’m just lazy but I’m quite appreciative of what HD vinyl seems to be capable of offering. Digital music news has a nice little piece about it.

So, what did we learn from this conference? We learned that there is a small but growing, and very dedicated, community around vinyl record manufacturing. We learned that, at this point, vinyl records are back again and the momentum is in full swing towards the brighter future; more people interested means more plants and more plants means more records. The people that are involved have a passion like I’ve not seen in many other endeavors. We are all excited for the future and Bags Unlimited will be there to provide excellent products and services to all of those people who have a passion for records! See you all for Making Vinyl 2019!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the Keynote Speaker, Little Steven, and words he said that I’ll never forget. “We have to make sure people remember that music doesn’t grow on trees.” It’s not expendable.


P.S. Here’s a Beatles Jukebox that was at the show. It sounded awesome! Below is a video of the design process.

LP Record Divider Cards – WHITE

LP Record Divider Cards. 12-1/8 x 13-1/8″. Made from 1/16″ thick E-flute white corrugated cardboard material.