Bryan Ekus and Larry Jaffee met 20 years ago while both were working in the compact disc-making industry. While the CD might be dead (for now, at least), the two friends and music lovers — Ekus, president of media manufacturing group Colonial Purchasing Co-Op, and Jaffee, a communications professional and New York Institute of Technology professor — recognized over the past few years that the revived interest in vinyl records wasn’t just a retro fad, but finding a groove in popular culture. In 2017, the pair launched Making Vinyl — an event for vinyl manufacturers, retailers, packagers, record label representatives, music brokers, artists, musicians, and enthusiasts to delve into vinyl’s rebirth alongside rock-star keynoters like Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
The Spin Business
In its first year, Making Vinyl was primarily geared toward vinyl manufacturers adjusting to the increased demand for records. But for its second edition, which took place Oct. 1–2 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Ekus and Jaffee wanted to expand the event’s offerings — and audience.
“We came to the realization that it’s entire value chain was not only synergistic, but depended upon each other,” Jaffee said. “That’s why we had a session on vinyl enthusiasts, because arguably they’re the most important — buying and fueling the interest in the new vinyl.”
The 2018 festival welcomed 400 attendees who were able to see Breakout Stars Sessions that included “Women in Vinyl,” “The Power of Crate Diggers,” and “How Pressing Plants Can Avoid Making Unauthorized Records.”
Home of Motown
Detroit has hosted Making Vinyl for both years, given that it’s the birthplace of the famed Motown Records, and, as Ekus and Jaffee said, a “comeback city” with rising popularity mirroring vinyl records’ rebirth. Attendees could take a shuttle for a tour of Third Man Pressing Plant, owned by the White Stripes’ front man and 2017 keynote speaker Jack White, and participate in a “Motown Music Crawl,” which included a guided tour of Motown Museum, and visits to iconic music venues and record shops.
Across the Pond
Next year, Making Vinyl will expand in two ways. Ekus and Jaffee plan to incorporate the impending rise of the cassette tape into the program, and in addition to the third U.S. edition, will bring the event to Europe, where vinyl is also enjoying a renaissance. It’s a move inspired by music, of course, which Jaffee said reminded him of a Leonard Cohen lyric: “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.”