Will Socolov, owner of Brooklyn Vinyl Works
In an unassuming, industrial building in Brownsville, Brooklyn, is Brooklyn Vinyl Works, one of two vinyl factories in New York City. In the New York neighborhood with the highest concentration of public housing, Brownsville is not the first Brooklyn neighborhood where artists tend to flock (see: Williamsburg.) But Will Socolov decided to open his vinyl factory on Powell Street in the summer of 2015. The Brooklyn Vinyl Works owner is also the co-founder of the now-defunct Sleeping Bag Records label and a vinyl factory veteran.
Since the early ’90s, there has been a resurgence in the vinyl industry. Artists like Adele, Taylor Swift and Pink Floyd top the list of vinyl sales in the United States, according to the 2015 Nielsen End of the Year Report. Socolov says that younger generations of music lovers realize that analog sounds better than digital forms of music.”If you go to YouTube and you do ‘CD versus vinyl’…” says Socolov, 60, “even in your computer you can hear a warmth and bigger dynamic range.”
Before his factory opened, Socolov tried raising money through Kickstarter, but only raised $51,911 of his $100,000 goal. Though the Kickstarter campaign fell short, Socolov said he was “going to open the factory no matter what” and that the extra funds were to purchase newer equipment.
Gary Mattison of Brooklyn Vinyl Works
Socolov says that running a vinyl factory is expensive work, between the equipment and maintenance of the building’s infrastructure. “The cost is astronomical,” he says. “I know that opening it up in Brooklyn, New York, has gotta be one of the most expensive places in the United States to open a factory.” Socolov says that the cost for all of the equipment and factory maintenance cost him close to $500,000. “You have boilers, you have hydraulic presses, you have so many things that can break down and go wrong,” says Socolov.
The most important part in a vinyl-pressing factory is the press itself. At Brooklyn Vinyl Works, Socolov has four record presses that he bought for $60,000 a piece. He says that the price to buy vinyl presses has gone up significantly since he opened his previous factory.
“It was a different time,” he says. “Buying presses back then, both times that I bought them, presses were $10,000. So it was a lot less expensive.”With all of the expenses to run a factory, Socolov says that the entire process to make a vinyl record takes only 37 seconds from start to finish.
As one of the few vinyl factories in the United States, Socolov says that business is steadily increasing, though the factory has only been open for less than a year. By the end of 2016, Socolov says he wants his factory to run 24 hours a day for five or six days out of the week.
“I don’t know if it’s gonna be the gold mine that everybody sort of says it is, but it is very popular,” says Socolov. “I believe that this business is going to have a long life.”
Next check out 5 of NYC’s Lost Record Stores and 12 of the Best Record Stores in NYC. Keep up with the author @jen_bagcal