Banging Out Fresh Tunes: Recycling Vinyl in Sunset Park

With vinyl sales soaring, a record pressing plant in Brooklyn is regenerating old songs. Literally.

Despite digital downloads ruling the roost when it comes to music consumption, vinyl record sales are up 260 percent since 2009, and 53 percent higher this year, compared to the same period last year, according to a recent report from consumer trend analysts Nielsen.

Riding the wave is Thomas Bernich, owner of Brooklyn Phono, a record-pressing plant in Sunset Park, nestled between auto-repair shops and pallet-storage warehouses. The process of record-pressing is essentially glorified plastic moulding, according to Bernich. Ninety percent of the raw material Bernich uses is from tired old 12-inch albums, supplied by distributors and labels with stock that isn’t shifting or even feuding husbands and wives who want to ditch their collection.

The old records are ground into granules which are then melted down. The music is stored as information on electroplates which press grooves into the raw vinyl material (something akin to “hot toothpaste” said Bernich), which the needle of a record player reads from the finished product.

Brooklyn Phono presses 10,000 12-inches a week. But unlike an mp3, “each playback will be unique,” Bernich said.

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