A massive fire at the Californian base of a company called Apollo Master Discs could have a huge knock-on affect for global vinyl production. Apollo is one of only two companies worldwide to manufacture the lacquered discs needed to make the masters that are then used to manufacture vinyl records for sale to consumers.
A statement on the company’s website reads: “It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time”.
According to the Palms Springs Desert Sun, it took 82 firefighters almost three hours to bring the fire under control. “There were multiple reports of explosions when the fire started”, California Fire Captain Fernando Herrera told the newspaper. “There wasn’t any one spot you could say wasn’t on fire”.
What this actually means for the manufacturing of vinyl worldwide isn’t yet clear, but record labels and pressing plants are preparing for a reduction in production.
“From my understanding, this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide”, Third Man Records’ Ben Blackwell tells Pitchfork. “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”.
He adds that, in addition to providing lacquered discs, Apollo is also the “primary or possibly only supplier of the styli” that are used in the vinyl pressing process. “I imagine this will affect everyone”, he says. “But to what extent remains to be seen”.
Blackwell says that there had already been rumours of another company planning to enter this market, but when, or even if, this might happen remains unclear.