SAINT-LAMBERT, Que. - Philippe Dubuc plunges his hands into one of his six old machines used to press vinyl records, trying to find out why it's not working.
A production slowdown is the last thing he wants to be dealing with on a warm September morning at RIP-V, which dubs itself as the only vinyl record pressing plant in Canada.
"I got a production order for 50,000 albums by Arcade Fire," Dubuc explains amid overheated machinery and a strong plastic smell. "And it's a double album so we're talking about 100,000 discs."
The popular Montreal band is one of many top acts still loyal to the medium of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Punk band Rancid, jazz sensation Serena Ryder and singer Nicole Martin are also among those who want to be immortalized in the fabled format.
Hundreds of boxes stacked in the Saint-Lambert factory near Montreal attest to the longevity of vinyl in the face of more high-tech offerings.
"Vinyl never died," says Dubuc, saying its new popularity isn't just because of the quality of the sound.
"There's a tactile side," he explained. "You sit and read the (album) jacket, which is something you can't do on an iPod."
Musicians and music consumers — including many purists — are driving vinyl's popularity. They're not old fogies dreaming of the good old days either.
"They're 15 to 25 years old," he said. "These are the people behind the demand."
The age of the vinyl consumers — and growth potential for the market — was a key factor in Dubuc deciding to open his company in 2007 after losing his job in the financial sector. His company now produces about 2,000 records per day.
Musicians also like the vinyl albums because they can present their music as a complete package, Dubuc said.
"It's not about selling individual songs on iTunes."
There's also tradition involved.
"I was talking to (Quebec singer) Bernard Adamus recently and he said it was his dream since he was little to have his name on a vinyl record."
But iTunes isn't just getting competition from vinyl. The cassette tape is enjoying a resurgence as well.
Montreal's Phonopolis is one of the places where people can get the small, rectangular object whose claim to fame was often how it would get chewed up by boom boxes.
Salesman Jordan Robson-Cramer says one of the main attractions is price.
"This is an easy and affordable way to record music," he says. "The finished product is cheaper."
Despite the new interest, Robson-Cramer says the cassette remains pretty marginal.
"I think any talk of a comeback could be more about nostalgia when it comes to tape," he said.
Dubuc said the two mediums appeal to different niches and the father of three says increasing demand means he'll likely have to add to the five full-time employees now on staff.
"We'll be busy," he said.
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