Music

An Entirely Solar-Powered Vinyl Factory Opens in Florida

A new vinyl factory opening Monday (April 22) in Gainesville, Fla., is entirely powered by solar energy. Opening amid the global celebration of Earth Day, the facility also features a flurry of other sustainability-related initiatives along the vinyl production and distribution processes.

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Audiodrome Record Pressing says its the United States’ first in-house vinyl pressing plant entirely powered by solar energy. Designed as a home for independent artists to have their records pressed, the facility features steamless record presses with closed-loop chiller systems, which eradicates the burning of fossil fuels and chemical runoff, while also minimizing water usage.

With the many environmental challenges of vinyl — including the fact that it is a petroleum product — Audiodrome is using recycled PVC from vinyl trimmings and rejected vinyl to make new records. Additionally, the company is aiming to have a “Bio-Vinyl” product that uses less petroleum by May.

Additionally, Audiodrome is using alternatives to the plastic shrink wrap that most new vinyl is packaged in, instead working with 100% recyclable and biodegradable external packaging made from paper that’s been certified green by a number of forest service management organizations. The factory will also recycle and reuse shipping materials such as cardboard, pallets and packing materials, along with 51% sugarcane shrink wrap options.

Audiodrome is located inside of Gainesville’s San Felasco Tech City, a business park entirely powered by solar trees and what it says is world’s largest array of bifacial solar solar panels. Audiodrome is the brainchild of artist Dave Newell and his wife, Betsy Bemis. Newell is a longtime beatmaker, making music as Enoch with Florida rap group CYNE since 2001. When supply chain issues, particularly with electrical equipment, were threatening to postpone Audiodrome’s opening by 12-18 months, linking with Tech City made it possible to for the project to keep moving forward without delay.

“A big part of why I wanted to start this business is to have the opportunity to work with independent artists from all over and help them bring their projects to life,” Newell said in a statement. “It can be a daunting task as an artist to get your product out into the world; not only do you have to get your music recorded, but then you need to navigate mastering, artwork, retail, and a whole host of other considerations. A lot of bands and artists don’t even know where to start. On top of that, it can be hard to get smaller runs of records pressed. We are committed to making the whole process an easy, transparent, and enjoyable experience that prioritizes our independent customers and their projects.”   

“Creativity is an essential part of our humanity and there is something about vinyl records that people find meaningful,” added Bemis. “They allow us to physically participate in the experience and build a tangible connection between the artist and the listener in a way that no other format does. It can be a beautiful thing. But the environmental cost of communion doesn’t have to be so high.”

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In March, Billboard reported that vinyl sales grew by 14.2% across all retailers in 2023 alone, according to Luminate. Billie Eilish recently spoke with Billboard about her decision to use 100% recycled vinyl, plus recycled scraps for colored variants and shrink-wrap packaging made from sugar cane, materials that Audiodrome is also using.

“Real change will require a willingness to evolve on everyone’s part: suppliers, presses, artists, and customers,” Bemis added. “New materials might sound, look, and feel different, but ethically we have no choice.”

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