Officials announced Monday that Denver-based record label Vinyl Me, Please will build a state-of-the-art 14,000-square-foot plant in the River North Art District to meet growing demand in the $1 billion vinyl industry.
“It’s just because we love Denver,” CEO Cameron Schaefer said in an interview with Olx Praca. “People may laugh at this, but it’s true. We definitely had people pushing us, saying, “There are cheaper places where you could build this.” But that wouldn’t be as fun.”
Schaefer did not disclose the cost of the building, which will be located next to mega-promoter AEG Presents Rocky Mountains’ multimillion-dollar Mission Ballroom in the 4000 block of Wynkoop Street. AEG executives built the place from the ground up when it opened in 2019, betting that the outer industrial fringes of the area (it’s not a neighborhood, as Vinyl Me’s press release says) will become increasingly crowded with pedestrians.
Vinyl Me, Please has a similar design and the new factory is scheduled to open later this year. The company’s growth has paralleled the vinyl industry as a whole, growing to $1 billion in annual sales last year, outpacing any other form of physical music media. In the US alone, sales rose from 21.5 million units in 2020 to 41.7 million units in 2021. MRC Data-Billboard (formerly Nielsen-SoundScan).
Global demand has also reached 300 million units of vinyl, Schaefer said, well below production capacity of about 150 million units. Low quality products are also making their way into the market to meet this demand, and the new Vinyl Me plant will work to raise those standards again.
Last year Vinyl Me, Please sold about 750,000 records, and this year they set a goal of selling 1 million records. The service costs between $33 and $43 a month, or about $500 a year, and includes exclusive pressings and reissues, box set reissues, podcasts, and more—often on color, limited edition, and collectible vinyl. In recent years, he has secured deals with iconic jazz labels and rights holders for releases from Willie Nelson and The Grateful Dead, and has expanded his main subscription genres to hip-hop and country.
“A lot of people ask, ‘Are you a label, a retailer, or who are you?’ Schaefer said. “The answer is that we are a music company, but we are probably blurring a lot of those boundaries. We come together in an attempt to give a tangible, transcendent experience with music.”
Vinyl Me, Please plans to rent out the property underneath its building, although Schaefer declined to describe the terms, funding for the construction, or the company’s annual income. According to Schaefer, they advertise it as “audiophile grade,” which means cutting-edge equipment run by great professionals and renowned perfectionists. In this case, that means seasoned sound engineer Gary Sulstrom and Grammy-winning artist and producer David Rawlings are joining as partner and chief groove director.
According to architectural renderings, Vinyl Me, Please will allocate about one-third of its building space to a bar, retail space, music room and other public amenities, following the lead of boutique press factories/venues such as Third Man Records in Detroit (with which , according to him, Schaefer consulted before building this one).
Notably, Vinyl Me, Please will offer recording tours as well as pre- and post-show performances from artists playing at the AEG Mission Ballroom. According to him, Vinyl Me, Please does not have an official advertising contract with AEG Presents.
Matt Fiedler and Tyler Barstow founded Vinyl Me, Please in 2013, at the start of the vinyl boom, as a subscription-based record club of the month. After moving to Colorado, they worked at co-founder Matt Fiedler’s apartment in Boulder and later at a house in the Coal Creek neighborhood of Louisville.
“I’m pretty sure during those two years in (Louisville) people thought we were doing drug deals,” Schaefer said. “We had a huge amount of records to stuff in the garage and friends coming in at all hours of the night to help pack and ship.”
In 2018, the company moved to its current headquarters at 1752 Platte St. in Denver. According to Schaefer, 27 of the company’s employees switched to remote work during the pandemic and have remained so until now: about half of them are based in Denver, and the other half is evenly distributed across the United States.
Schaefer, who grew up in Laramie, Wyoming and graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, said he wants to open up the world of vinyl to everyone, regardless of their tastes. He knows the word “audiophile” can be intimidating, but Vinyl Me, Please these days sells as much pop and dance records as obscure jazz or indie rock.
“There is still a collaborative spirit in the industry, so the more high-quality records we can put out and the more demand we can meet, the better for everyone,” he said.
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