Global vinyl production is being threatened after a major fire at Apollo Masters in California. The factory, which is one of only two facilities worldwide that manufactures the lacquer used for making master discs from which vinyl is cut, suffered a serious fire at its Californian base on Thursday February 6th. No employees were injured during the fire, which completely destroyed the facility.
In a message on their website, the company said: “We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time.” While some pressing plants keep an amount of lacquer stored on-site, its short-term lifespan means most don’t stockpile long-term supply. As reported by Pitchfork, Duplication, a Toronto-based duplication company wrote, “Disaster for the vinyl pressing industry,” and “There will be a lacquer shortage and possibly plants having to close or scale back operations for a while.”
San Franciscan label Dark Entries also expressed concern on delivering on release dates for the rest of the year in a tweet, saying:
Today Apollo Masters burned down. It supplied 90% of lacquers for the WORLD (material used for cutting vinyl masters). There is only only supplier left now in Japan. Expect huge delays and setbacks from every label that makes records via this process. pic.twitter.com/Eu7RuuD7ze
— Dark Entries Records (@darkentriesrecs) February 8, 2020
The scale of which the global supply chain will be affected is unknown, though many have expressed concerns that the other lacquer manufacturer – a company called MDC in Japan – was “already struggling” to keep up with demand. In an email to Billboard, Gil Tamazyan who founded the Californian pressing plant Capsule Labs said it was "too soon to know" to implications of the fire, but that it "will cause a hindrance in some major way” He added that finding "a U.S.-based supplier is imperative."
The news comes off the back of a rise in vinyl sales globally, with UK sales reaching a record high in 2019.