Pressed Into Existence

Pink grainy background with record graphic behind the words "Pressed Into Existence"

Vinyl Me, Please on How Records Make it to The Needle 

After a whole decade of bringing records to life, or back to life rather, the team at Vinyl Me, Please is in tune. From the inception of an idea or project all the way to choosing what records to feature in their vinyl subscription to the strategy of getting those records in-hand and on the turntable, they have their finger on the pulse. Whalebone was lucky enough to get a look into the life behind the sounds at Vinyl Me, Please, and we ended up with quite a few recommended LPs to add to the ol’ collection. Needle down.

Clay Conder sitting and smiling with pink scribble behind him.

Clay Conder

Art Director / Designer 

What does your day-to-day entail? 

Every day is a little different at VMP, but most days include concepting and sketching for our line of box sets (VMP Anthology) as well as developing the packaging for our Records of the Month, whether that be picking vinyl colors or finishes, or designing the Listening Notes booklets that are included. I also play a role in the marketing of the records, working with a photographer/ videographer to capture the key details of a package, to highlight on the product pages on our site. 

Tell us about your personal most memorable VMP record release you have worked on. Why was/is it special to you? 

I sometimes still can’t believe that I was able to work with the Miles Davis Estate to develop a box set of his late ’60s and early ’70s electric albums. This is potentially my favorite run of albums, by any artist, ever, so to get the chance to put this together visually was a dream come true. 

What role do you play in the life cycle of a record? 

Once we confirm that we are going to feature an album or a series of albums in a box set, my job is to figure out how to present it in the best way possible, always aiming to make the definitive version. This includes choosing what vinyl color/effect we will use, and what kind of special finishes we’ll put on the package, like foil stamping, spot gloss, embossing, etc. So, in short, making sure our records look and feel good. 

Every project begins with someone saying, “We should do that record,” and I’m the one who gets to say, “We will.”

Emily Nixon smiling in halftone effect image.

Emily Nixon 

Senior Director, Marketing & Partnerships 

What does your day-to-day entail? 

I have the privilege of overseeing the full marketing and partnerships department. On any given day, you could find me meeting with partners and key stakeholders, reviewing campaigns with the team, experimenting with audience development and exploring ways to keep VMP’s brand exciting and relevant. While doing all of that, I’m also probably listening to our wide collection of ’90s hip-hop on vinyl. 

Tell us about your personal most memorable VMP record release you have worked on. Why was/is it special to you? 

My second day at VMP, I was tasked with developing a marketing plan for Mariah Carey’s Daydream and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn’t believe I got to get up, go to work and market albums that had truly changed my life. 

What role do you play in the life cycle of a record? 

I am the last stop in the VMP life cycle. My team and I have the honor of marketing the fabulous titles our music team picks, our production team produces and our creative team designs.

Stephen holding album with pink doodles around.

Stephen Anderson 

Quality Manager 

What does your day-to-day entail? 

On an average day, I’ll source and scan a copy from an album’s original vinyl release, so that we can faithfully recreate its artwork and packaging for our reissue; meet with my colleagues in the production and art departments to plot out the various package specs for our releases, from selecting which mastering engineer we want to cut the lacquers down to the vinyl colorways and package details that will make a record look and feel most visually cohesive; listen to test pressings (often multiple times over before approving); and proof the package art that will eventually become our finished records, jackets, booklets, etc. 

Tell us about your personal most memorable VMP record release you have worked on. Why was/is it special to you? 

While I have eyes and ears on almost every project we produce at VMP—they are all kind of like children to me, in a sense—our Anthology release of The Story of Cadet Records will always be one of my nearest and dearest. In addition to my typical production roles, I pitched the idea and curated the eight titles within it, researched and wrote an extensive essay on the label’s fascinating history, and got the opportunity to interview the label’s former president, Marshall Chess, in doing so. Heck, I even got a Cadet Records tattoo to commemorate what is essentially the most extravagant love letter to a record label that a person could think to make. Yet the most special part of the project has been sharing it with the world and hearing other listeners fall in love with this special music much like I have. 

What role do you play in the life cycle of a record? 

My job is essentially to get into the head of an album’s biggest fan and figure out what would make for the best-looking, feeling and sounding version of that album for that audience. Crucially, I get to dig deep into a given album’s history to understand where its previous releases may have fallen short, in an attempt to “correct” common complaints among fans. Maybe an album has only ever been released on one overly long LP, when it really ought to be split across two discs. Maybe an album’s original artwork has never been faithfully replicated since its first release, or has never been released with serviceable LP-sized artwork, as in the case of many notable hip-hop albums from the ’80s and ’90s. 

Andrew "Storf" in front of a record store

Andrew “Storf” Winistorfer

Senior Director, Music & Editorial 

What does your day-to-day entail? 

I spend every day thinking about what albums VMP should feature in its variety of different subscriptions and programs. Functionally that means getting emails that say, “Would you guys want to do anything with the Sly and the Family Stone catalog?” or “What albums would you guys do in a Miles Davis box set if we let you do one?” And then I get to spend the day imagining what that looks like, listening to music and researching, and then emailing that person back. My goal is to try to find records that our members will love and records that have a great story. I have the best job in the world. 

Tell us about your personal most memorable VMP record release you have worked on. Why was/is it special to you? 

William Bell’s The Soul of a Bell, VMP Classics 11. William Bell is an under-the-radar legend of Stax Records, as he was an early arranger and songwriter and singer at the legendary Memphis soul label. Right as he was hitting his stride—literally while he was on a major U.S. tour opening for Stars of Soul—he was drafted into the military and forced to serve in the U.S. Army. He luckily never had to actually go to Vietnam, but during the years he should have been what Otis Redding became, he was cleaning up cigarette butts from higher-ranked officers. By the time he gets to make his debut album, soul music has changed three-four times, so he studies the radio, and makes his debut, The Soul of a Bell, which for my money is the best debut LP in Stax’s catalog. As part of doing the record, I got to spend a few hours with Mr. Bell backstage at a concert and in his studio in Atlanta, where he told me stories I’ll always remember, and gave me the best marriage advice I’ve ever gotten. That connection to the artist, and honoring their work, is why I love working at VMP. 

What role do you play in the life cycle of a record? 

As the Senior Director of Music & Editorial, I am responsible for curating and programming our six Record of the Month subscriptions, and our Anthology box sets, and I oversee the curation of our member store. I view myself as the final filter for all the possible music we could reissue. Every project begins with someone saying, “We should do that record,” and I’m the one who gets to say, “We will.” 

Julia McGuire cut out with vinyl record behind it.

Julia McGuire 

Senior Marketing Manager, Artist & Label Partnerships 

What does your day-to-day entail? 

I feel fortunate that my day-to-day changes often. Some days, I am focused on building out campaigns and moments to support our records and future launches, other days I am communicating with artists, labels and brand partners to help secure partnerships or move existing partnerships forward. In both situations, I can be working on a handful of mini projects like producing exclusive content, reviewing creative assets and writing copy. I’m often amazed at how much we’re able to accomplish as a small (and mighty) team. 

Tell us about your personal most memorable VMP record release you have worked on. Why was/is it special to you? 

Absolutely would be O.S.T. by People Under the Stairs, which was a Record of the Month in our hip-hop track in November 2020. This was a record that I pitched to the music team shortly after starting at VMP and one that I had loved since I was in high school. It’s an independent hip-hop record with an undeniable classic sound, and I noticed it was out of print and in high demand. Turns out the duo had been looking into reissuing the record, and helped us bring the project to fruition. 

What role do you play in the life cycle of a record? 

Once a record goes from idea to project, that is where I will step in. Alongside the marketing team, we will work to secure photography and video assets to support our Records of the Month. We’ll work with our artist and label partners to make sure they are well-prepared to hype up our co-announcements on socials and email. Any additional marketing promotions, creative concepts, additional content and partnerships will also be formed at this stage, and we will roll out a plan on how to execute. 

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