New Zealand said goodbye to home-pressed vinyl records in 1987 with the closure of EMI (previously His Master’s Voice) in Lower Hutt, Wellington. So when Ben Wallace wanted to press his folk band The Rambling’s music onto vinyl and found no local avenues, he decided with his business partner Joel Woods to “drop everything” and bring vinyl pressing back home.
What is Holiday Records?
Holiday Records is a full-service vinyl record manufacturing pressing line. We manufacture vinyl records for New Zealand and the globe.
We’re full-service, so we do the centre labels, the inner sleeves, the jackets, single pocket, inserts, stickers, shrink wrapping - we do everything.
What materials do you need to press a record?
We use virgin vinyl, which is polyvinyl chloride or PVC - that’s where vinyl gets its name.
What made you start the business?
There was no one in the country doing it, and we noticed the increase in demand for vinyl quite sharply about six or seven years ago.
There was only one in Australia at the time, so we thought we’d fill the void and bring vinyl manufacturing back to New Zealand for the first time since the 80s.
How long has vinyl manufacturing been outside the country?
The last vinyl pressing plant in New Zealand closed its doors in 1987. It was EMI (previously HMV), in Wellington.
How many records do you press a day?
We have one vinyl press that presses about a thousand records a day.
How did you get into vinyl pressing?
I was in a folk band and we wanted to press on vinyl.
We realised no one was doing it in the country so we thought it seemed like a smart thing to do. So we dropped everything and went for it.
What is involved in setting up a vinyl press?
We had to import the vinyl press from Canada and install a steam boiler and a water chiller. Then Joel and I had to learn how to press vinyl from scratch.
We were rookies. We hadn’t pressed vinyl before so we had to go through a pretty intensive trial from the people we bought the machine from in Canada to learn how to manufacture high-quality records.
How long does it take to learn something like that?
It takes a while, especially to get really good records because there’s a lot to it. Vinyl pressing is not necessarily like any other manufacturing.
It’s a real craft - there’s a lot that goes into it. And obviously, the product has to sound good and look good. It took us about six months or so to press really high-quality records.
How much capital do you need to set up something like that?
A fair bit because there’s the equipment we had to buy, all the setup costs that come with it, buying the PVC which is the virgin vinyl we use, so it was a fair amount.
Who are your customers?
We deal a lot with the major labels: Universal, Sony, Warner. We have Flying Nun and some distributors like Rhythmethod who are based in New Zealand. But we deal with a lot of independent bands as well.
What are your favourite records that you’ve got to press?
Anything from years gone by, artists like Tom Scott and Avantdale Bowling Club.
It’s always been cool to press the big artists for major labels like Post Malone and Kendrick Lamar, which we’re doing today.
We have done Lana Del Rey and Creedence Clearwater Revival. But also the homegrown ones like Fat Freddy’s Drop, L.A.B, Aldous Harding and Lorde.
We’ve done records for Flying Nun releases as well which is always pretty cool.
How do you keep up with the demand for vinyl records?
It’s kept us on our toes. We work seven days a week - 16 hours a day for five days a week, and then eight hours a day on weekends.
We have eight people on the team. There is a bigger demand for records at the moment because it’s making a comeback.
Have you noticed a change in demand over the last few years?
I would say it’s actually plateauing at the moment.
Demand sharply rose from about 2011 until about the middle of last year. At the moment, we’re seeing a plateau in the market, but it’s plateauing at much higher levels than it was in the early 2000s.
Did you have any supply or production issues during the pandemic?
Shipping wait times were really congested at the port and globally. Shipping prices went up quite a lot because of staff shortages overseas - that had a real effect.
Otherwise, it wasn’t too bad. We saw a massive increase in demand through the lockdown because at-home entertainment increased with people buying record players and records, which flowed through to us. It was a good way for bands and labels to make money while they were at home by pressing records and selling records.
What do you want to see in the vinyl space in the future?
We love vinyl so it’s been really amazing to see that most releases now stream digitally and press vinyl. I think that should continue because vinyl’s the best physical format, in my opinion.
I just want to see people loving and cherishing vinyl the way we love it. It’s an amazing format.
The whole ritual around it, all the little nuances that come with it. I think if you’re not around it, you should get around it because it’s a wonderful thing.
Alka Prasad is an Auckland-based junior business reporter covering small business and retail. She joined the Herald in 2022 following the Te Rito cadetship programme.