Nowadays we’re used to being able to download music at the click of a button. Even CDs seem old hat – but for the purists, vinyl still reigns supreme.
At least it does according to Richard Langston, who presses vinyl albums as well as CDs and DVDs for a living through his company Mighty Media Discs.
Richard, a keen collector of records since the age of 16 and an ardent drummer, is confident the demand is still there, and rubbishes the suggestion that records are ‘old school’ and only for those looking for nostalgia.
He said: “Vinyl sales have gone up – in fact, they doubled in 2013.
“About 25 per cent of my work is vinyl at the moment, but I can only see it increasing.
“I went to a record store day in Watford last April, and a huge percentage of people in the queue were under 35.”
Richard – who lives in the Tring Triangle with wife Sophie and daughter Betsy – explained that those buying vinyl are ‘investing in the music’.
He said: “They look after it. People have more patience for it and give it a proper listen. The sound quality is much better.”
The resurgence has perhaps been aided by support from top bands such as Coldplay and Daft Punk, who have released recordings on vinyl in recent years.
Though the majority of Richard’s work is CD-based, those orders he does get for vinyl are pressed at a plant based in Luton, which is one of only three of its kind left in the UK – though many remain in Europe.
Richard said: “The guy who runs the plant in Luton said his workload has doubled in the last year.
“The thing is, we’re now at a point where the capacity to produce vinyl is maxed out, because there are only so many old, oily bits of machinery that can do it, and they’re not making any more.”
Richard – who brokers CDs, DVDs and vinyl from his home – recalls pressing recordings with a company in the Czech Republic, because they were the only ones he could find who could produce flexidiscs – phonograph records made from a very thin, flexible sheet of vinyl.
He said: “There was only one machine that could do it, and it’s a very old process.
“There was this retired 80-year-old guy that had to come in and show them how to use it, because there are no manuals.”
The laborious process begins with the lacquer, which is cut directly from the master tape of the recording.
Next comes plating, which involves the lacquer being coated with a thin layer of silver which is then electro-plated with nickel.
Various ‘mother’ and ‘father’ plates are produced before the vinyl is finally pressed.
Despite the rise in demand for vinyl, CD products make up the largest proportion of Richard’s work – and he says that most of the albums and singles he makes are for unsigned bands trying to make it on their own.
He said: “A lot of bands get their income from live gigs, and selling the CDs directly to their fans. That way it cuts out the middle man.”
And now he can add a local band’s latest album to his list after a friendly conversation over the garden fence.
Richard’s next door neighbour Simon Blanchard is better known locally as one quarter of acoustic rockers Old Country Union, who are well-known on the Tring gig scene.
The band had the chance to manufacture their album Home Brew – pictured right – in Manchester, but chose to keep business closer to home.
Richard, who counts the Stone Roses and the Charlatans among his favourite bands, said: “They do the creative part – I just put it together and deliver them. They’re very pleased.”
This month will see Richard join forces with two like-minded souls and well-known Tring faces – musician George Harvey and Vivianne Child of Tring Together – to encourage music-lovers to get together and connect in the local area.
The first Muzicmeet will be at The Black Horse in Frogmore Street from 8pm on Thursday, January 16.
There will be acoustic live music and a chance to mingle and chat with others on the same wavelength.
Richard, 37, said: “We wanted to create an informal, relaxed music forum for like-minded musicians and music professionals on a regular basis.
“Sometimes the only people that will listen to you talk about music for ages are other musicians!”
All are welcome to the free event – including those who don’t necessarily play an instrument, such as those involved with album artwork, mastering and studio recording.
The aim of the group is to provide an outlet from which to find out about anything music-related in Tring.
For more, search Muzicmeet on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about Richard’s company can be found at www.mightymediadiscs.co.uk.