Despite Austin’s famous and thriving music industry, musicians find it difficult to publish vinyl records and must often wait many months to get their records back.
That is, until Gold Rush Vinyl, a new vinyl pressing plant in North Austin, opened with the aims of filling production gaps in the industry and making vinyl publication faster and more accommodating for smaller orders. The concept for Gold Rush Vinyl came out of the frustration that founder and owner Caren Kelleher felt while she worked as a band manager.
“It’s far too long to ask any band to wait (4 to 6 months) for vinyl to be made … especially when tour opportunities come up very quickly,” Kelleher said.
Kelleher explained Gold Rush will have around a four- to six-week turnaround rate. In addition, they do not have minimum order quantities, allowing bands of all sizes to publish vinyl records.
“I started looking into why there were such delays, and why vinyl couldn’t get made more quickly, and discovered that there were a lot of bottlenecks and manufacturing issues with vinyl,” Kelleher said. “(And there’s) a growing demand for vinyl, so I came up with the idea for Gold Rush Vinyl, which is fast turnaround, short-run record pressing.”
Duncan Fellows, a local indie band composed of UT alumni, released their first album on vinyl with the help of Gold Rush and said the process couldn’t have been more pain-free. The band’s drummer, Tim Hagen, said they previously could not release vinyl because there were no companies that could reasonably make the amount they needed.
“We knew printing vinyl was super expensive, so we didn’t do it at first,” Hagen said. “When Gold Rush hit us up, they gave us prices that were super cheap (with a) super fast turnaround.”
The vinyl manufacturing process has remained relatively unchanged since its inception decades ago, albeit with the use of more accurate modern machinery. Production manager Dave Mendoza, who oversees the entire manufacturing process, said that the production at Gold Rush is the best he has seen in the six years that he has worked in record pressing.
Mendoza explained that Gold Rush uses lean production techniques to minimize waste and be more efficient in order to accelerate the process.
“We are a lean manufacturing company, which means that (when) clients want a record, everything is very streamlined, very fast,” Mendoza said. “(Gold Rush has the) best infrastructure I’ve ever seen in a pressing plant.”
Gold Rush caters to a variety of artists, ranging from bar bands to top-level pop stars. Kelleher said that while they have received some orders because an artist needs inventory quickly and can’t get another plant to do the job, they also work with smaller and local bands.
“We work with smaller bands that haven’t been able to get vinyl produced efficiently or cost-effectively in the past just because of the way that the vinyl industry has always been structured, which is to prioritize bigger orders, to set minimums that don’t make a lot of sense for developing artists,” Kelleher said.
Jack Malonis, Duncan Fellows’ keyboard player and vocalist, said that as a band that primarily spreads via Spotify, being able to expand into vinyl has been a rewarding risk that was possible because Gold Rush allowed them to produce 200 copies. This allowed them to test their sales before making a large quantity of vinyl.
“(Gold Rush) made something possible for us that we didn’t think was possible until the next record,” Hagen said. “There’s something (special) about having a physical copy of your music as an artist and a listener.”