December 8, 2017

Vinyl revival: how Third Man Records is keeping analog alive

Nashville indie label Third Man Records has been making waves in the music industry since 2001—playing a big part in the vinyl resurgence in recent years. At MOO, we understand the analog appeal, which is why we are thrilled to partner with companies with like-minded approach. We spoke with them about the label’s humble beginnings and how it brought an old music format back into fashion.

Vinyl revival

Founded in 2001 by Jack White, Third Man Records started out as a way for White to re-release some older White Stripes singles on vinyl. It was a bold move at the time, as CDs were the predominant format to buy music. But White’s bet paid off. With the White Stripes’ rise in popularity, fans began connecting with White’s revival of older analog formats.

Third Man record store

Fast forward to 2009—vinyl was in such high demand among music fans, it led to Third Man opening its first-ever physical location in Nashville, Tennessee. The brick-and-mortar was more than just a headquarters—it was also a live music venue and a record shop. More recently, the label opened another operation in Detroit with an expanded record pressing plant.

Store Inside

Old meets new

As the music industry becomes increasingly digitized, Third Man is focused the keeping it tangible—whether it’s a vinyl record, book, or band t-shirt. “We are trying to keep the physical aspects of music alive,” Third Man’s art director Ryon Nishimori says. “There’s just something nice about putting on a record, letting it play, and hearing the music all the way through.” While digital music experiences allow for any song to be played at a moment’s notice, the Third Man ethos harkens back to old-school methods. “Listening to vinyl means you are listening to the music how it was intended to be listened to. It was the first-ever physical music format, so maybe we got it right the first time with vinyl?”

For Nishimori, the vinyl format is the ideal canvas for art directors. Third Man’s in-house design team works together to design vinyl packaging that collectors and enthusiasts alike have begun to cherish. “Every album, book, or t-shirt we produce is a part of our brand that we are sharing with the world. That’s why it’s so important to keep the style consistent throughout all of our mediums.”

The venue at Third Man Records

While digital formats allow for on-demand playback and purchasing, Third Man sought to keep up with its revolutionary direct-to-acetate recording technology. Musicians can now perform at Third Man’s live soundstage and record their set directly onto a vinyl record. “We tried to bridge the gap in the digital age by using analog technology and speeding up the process,” Nishimori explains. Artists from The Shins to Neil Young have recorded these direct-to-vinyl LPs that are now cherished as collectibles from live performances. “These days, people want things right away, so we try to accommodate. It’s the perfect marriage between old and new technologies.”

In fact, Jack White now holds the record of “World’s Fastest Record” with his 2014 release “Lazaretto.” White took the stage at Third Man Records’ Blue Room venue at 10AM, played through their song and recorded directly onto vinyl. That record was then passed on to production with photos from the performance as the album art and pressed directly to 45s—all within a 4-hour time span.

A labor of love

What keeps Third Man Records running on all cylinders? For Nishimori, it’s the people. “The people that make up Third Man are all passionate about music—everyone chips in and has ideas about the process.” With weekly shows at the Third Man HQ and an impressive catalog of renowned rock, blues, and soul artists—it’s no wonder Third Man attracts passionate employees.

BusinessCards

Third Man understands the importance of analog, which is why their employees’ Business Cards communicate their brand. “We have to practice what we preach,” Nishimori says. “We have to have an old-school way to communicate and share information too.”

BusinessCards2

When the label started, White and co-founder Ben Blackwell decided there was no real need for official job titles, since the label was just a few employees at the time. As a result, each employee got to choose their own job title. “It was just one of those things that was fun when we started, and stuck around as we grew,” Nishimori explains. “It’s a personal touch that people get to add to their Business Cards.” Through MOO Business Services, Third Man employees can log into their own platform and order their own customized Business Cards with their own job titles.

As Nishimori describes, “Third Man’s Business Cards were designed to look like old-fashioned letterpress cards, but in a more modern way.” Fitting—as that’s what their business is all about.


Tell your brand story with MOO Business Services

At MOO, we’ve been helping people make their mark in the world with amazing quality print products for over a decade. And as our customers have grown, so has our service offering. That’s why for bigger businesses—with 10+ employees—we now offer MOO Business Services. It’s MOO + benefits. MOO Business Services combines dedicated account management with an easy online ordering platform and expert design services. It’s a complete package for businesses to give you more brand control and consistency—while saving you time, stress, and money in the process.

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