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As vinyl record sales soar, Copycats Media presses on

On Saturday, Record Store Day will include vinyl from Copycats Media's pressing plant in Osseo, Minn.

OSSEO, Minnesota — In a digital world, vinyl presses on. 

In fact, the resurgence led Copycats Media to open its own vinyl record pressing plant in Osseo. Copycats claims it's the first vinyl record pressing facility in the state. 

"I never thought we'd ever be opening a record pressing plant," said Justin Kristal, Copycats president. 

Copycats started as a small broker in downtown Minneapolis 26 years ago, working with independent musicians on smaller projects. The business grew fast and about 18 years ago, The ADS Group acquired them. They've since become the largest CD manufacturer in North America, working with household names like Adele, Beyonce, and Harry Styles. 

When musicians and labels wanted vinyl, Copycats worked with their partners. But it got to the point where their partners couldn't offer them what they needed.

Last year, Copycats bought a warehouse in Osseo and started pressing records by the fall. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Copycats Media's vinyl record pressing facility is located in Osseo, Minn.

"I think we've been doing this about six months and it feels like about five years," said Greg Schoener, vice president of quality and technology. 

Kristal added, "It's not easy. You can't be like... buy a record press, plug it in, make some records." 

The infrastructure alone was a large undertaking. They needed a boiler, chiller, and air compressor. Steam is required as part of the pressing process. 

Copycats' operation starts at their Plymouth location where they use electroforming to create the plates required for the molding process. Those plates are then taken to the pressing facility. Polyvinyl chloride pellets are put into the machine and melted down into pucks. Those pucks then get pressed into molds to form a record. A new record gets pressed every 30 seconds. It then sits and acclimates for about 24 hours before it gets inspected and packaged. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl

Copycats has shipped more than 200,000 records so far. They have four presses that can produce 20,000-25,000 records per week. They hope to soon add a fifth press. 

Since launching, they have pressed LPs for Alicia Keys, Sufjan Stevens, and Macklemore. 

Kristal has been working with Macklemore for 14 years before he was a household name. Kristal remembers first meeting him, wanting a quote for 200 CDs. Copycats is now behind Mackelmore's newest album, having pressed around 24,000 double LPs. 

"He's been with us since the beginning and he was a big part of Copycats' success," Kristal said. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Justin Kristal, Greg Schoener and Chris Johnson of Copycats Media.

That success is centered on supporting artists of all sizes. 

"Local artists got us here," General Manager Chris Johnson said. 

Johnson recalled a recent story of an artist who required a tight turnaround. 

"We had an artist that had a show on Saturday. We worked with them on that Thursday to essentially press their record, package it and get it to them in time for them to pick it up and have it at release at a local show which we took pride in that," Johnson said. 

Local artists also stop by to grab footage of their records being made — a unique part of being located in Minnesota. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Packaging also happens from their Osseo facility.

A new report from the Recording Industry Association of America found that vinyl records outsold CDS in the U.S. last year for the first time since 1987. 

"They have a passion for the artist or the music so they want a physical product. They're a fan," Kristal said. "They want the experience of that record that someone poured everything into." 

Record Store Day will be celebrated all across the world at independent record stores on Saturday, April 22. 

Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at hwigdahl@kare11.com.  

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