By Chris M. Junior
Talk about serendipitous: In March, when the Recording Industry Association of America reported that vinyl sales in 2017 were up 10 percent to $395 million, Gold Rush Vinyl officially opened for business in Austin, Texas.
Gold Rush Vinyl specializes in quick turnarounds of high-quality vinyl pressings (its standard pressing is 180-gram vinyl), and it also handles short-run orders. According to Caren Kelleher, Gold Rush’s founder and president, the industry’s typical turnaround time for a vinyl order is four to six months. Her plant’s usual timetable is four to six weeks.
The 8,400-square-foot facility has two vinyl-pressing machines, and floor space is already marked for four more, Director of Operations Gator Russo pointed out as he and Kelleher provided a tour of the facility in mid-March.
GOLDMINE: Music has been a constant throughout your career. What particular event triggered your decision to begin this venture?
CAREN KELLEHER: The idea for this actually came from frustration I had while I was an indie band manager. No one would produce vinyl fast enough for when my artists needed it, and it was such an important revenue stream for them. Even when I offered to pay more, no one would take my order!
At the same time, I was working at Google, managing its music app partnerships, and was seeing how many app developers — like Spotify, YouTube and Pandora — were starting to sell vinyl on their platforms. Vinyl felt like an industry where I could apply what I learned at Google and as a band manager to build something different.
GM:What made Austin the right place for you to open Gold Rush Vinyl?
CK: It was important to me that Gold Rush Vinyl be in a city that was a strong touring market. Touring bands come through here every day, and those are the kinds of customers we want to serve. I also appreciated how much Texas values small-business owners. My team and I got this plant built in two months, whereas it would have taken two years in other states. Most importantly, I love this town and how many interesting, inspiring and genuinely cool people live here.
GM: How did you find and select the design team that you worked with?
GATOR RUSSO: First we had to find folks willing to entertain our “outside the box” ideas. This proved to be a challenge with both manufacturers and contractors. … Not a single member of the team, myself included, had ever worked with any vinyl-record manufacturing previously.
GM: Without getting too technical, what do your infrastructure’s constant temperatures, flows and pressures contribute to a typical day of production, and how do they benefit Gold Rush’s customers?
GR: Controlling as many variables as possible enables us to achieve stability and predictability. While other facilities are chasing desirable operating conditions, we are pressing records. Ultimately, this benefits our customers as we are able to accurately and aggressively schedule production.
Find out more by going to goldrushvinyl.com.