How Vinyl Records Are Made

A Trip to United Record Pressing in Nashville

The vinyl resurgence of recent years has impacted the music business in many ways, with more and more artists opting to get their music pressed and more and more fans entering the record buying world for the first time. Between these two sits the realm of vinyl production, which relies on a small handful of vinyl pressing plants operating at max capacity to keep up with the ever-increasing demand.

Nashville's United Record Pressing remains the largest operation in North America, churning out more than 60,000 records a day in a massive facility on the south edge of Music City.

On our recent visit, CEO Mark Michaels gave us a Willy Wonka-like tour of the facility and step-by-step break down of the record-pressing process. The plant uses vintage presses and other machines, making records just as they've been made for decades. Starting from a digital or analog master recording, through master lathing, labeling, pressing, and packaging, the entire process is done in-house with the utmost attention to detail and quality at every step.

Following the lean years of the '90s, when the company survived mostly on limited edition pressings made for promotional purposes, United Record Pressing has expanded steadily since the mid-2000s in lock step with the growth of the vinyl market. They frequently recommission vintage machines and have brought the facility's total number of working presses from two to more than 30 in just over a decade's time. Watch the video above for a more detailed view into each step of how a record gets made.