Fire at Lacquer Factory Threatens Worldwide Vinyl Record Supply

"I imagine this will affect everyone," Third Man Records' Ben Blackwell said

Vinyl record
Visitors buy, sell and exchange thousands of vinyl records at a shopping mall in Gdansk.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty
By Bonnie Stiernberg / February 10, 2020 1:19 pm

A fire at Apollo Masters, a manufacturing plant in Banning, California responsible for supplying the lacquer for master discs used to make vinyl records, could reportedly have a devastating impact on the industry, threatening vinyl record supplies worldwide.

“From my understanding, this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide,” Ben Blackwell, co-founder of Third Man Records, told Pitchfork in an email. “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.”

“I imagine this will affect EVERYONE, not just Third Man Pressing and Third Man Mastering, but to what extent remains to be seen,” he added. “I don’t want to be an alarmist. But I’m attempting to be realistic as opposed to Pollyannish.”

No employees were injured in the fire at Apollo Masters, but the facility was completely destroyed. “We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time,” a message on the company’s website reads.

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