Why Capitol Records’ vinyl master Ron McMaster is busier than ever

From the L.A. Times

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Ron McMaster, mastering engineer at Capitol Studios for 30 years, is helping to train a new generation of vinyl cutters, both to keep up with the current demand and to make sure someone can take over for him when he retires this year. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Ron McMaster, skilled in the art of cutting vinyl records, had been planning to retire. To the longtime Capitol Studios mastering engineer, the era of digital streaming services such as Spotify seemed to sound a death knell for his profession.

He’d watched album sales plummet after Napster and LimeWire came on to the scene. Record labels and retailers went out of business. The venerable Tower Records closed its doors.

Sales of the old-school LPs are at a nearly 30-year high and rising, making it one of the only growth areas in the long-troubled music business. LP and EP sales hit $416 million in the U.S. last year, nearly five times their revenue from five years ago and hitting their highest point since 1988, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

Delivery subscription clubs and online retailers have stepped in to fill the demand. Amazon has become a go-to online seller of new discs, and physical stores including the youth-oriented clothing chain Urban Outfitters and bookseller Barnes & Noble are dedicating increasing floor space to the throwback format.

You can read more at the L.A. Times

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