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With Outta Wax, Minneapolis Will Get a Record Pressing Plant of Its Own

Minnesota is about to be home to not one but TWO vinyl record-making facilities.

Cheapo Records on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis
Em Cassel

Hot on the heels of last week’s news that Copycats Media will soon open a Maple Grove record pressing facility, we’re just tickled to tell ya that Minneapolis is getting a vinyl production factory, too.

Outta Wax has already secured space in a northeast Minneapolis arts building, just a handful of blocks from Grumpy’s. Cofounder Sara Pette tells us that the machines have been ordered and should ship out soon—if all goes according to plan, they’ll be testing the presses later this year.

“I’m actually pretty surprised that the Twin Cities area [doesn’t] have a pressing plant yet!” she says.

Pette plays in the garage pop band Lutheran Heat (great name) and is the owner of Pette’s Hounds Dogwalking & Pet Care (GREAT NAME). Both of those things were thrown into flux during the pandemic, which is right around the time Pette started talking about hosting a podcast with her brother John. The two avid collectors soon had a tangential idea: What if they got a loan to open a record pressing plant?

Pette tells us this’ll be a smaller operation, not quite on the scale of Copycat’s 65,000-square-foot space, but it’ll be a great place for Minnesota bands and independent artists everywhere to circumvent the “crushing demand” that’s keeping them and small labels from being able to sell records right now.

“We’re desiring to work with indie labels and independent artists much more so than any major labels,” says Pette, who previously learned the ropes at SunPress Vinyl in Miami. She and her cofounders have heard about major labels paying big bucks to jump the line, and, as the Star Tribune’s Chris Riemenschneider reported last month, massive vinyl demands from big-name artists like Adele and Taylor Swift are putting the squeeze on vinyl production facilities, and therefore on smaller musicians with less capital.

That won’t happen at Outta Wax: “We want to make sure that independent artists who have bolstered the music scene at large the whole time can still press records.”

And not just any records! Pette notes that high demand has made it increasingly difficult to mass-produce color vinyl, which is a much more hands-on process, “especially when you get into the patterns, the cool stuff.” Thanks to its smaller scale, Outta Wax will be able to do color variants—they’ll also be pressing 7″ and 10″ records and picture discs, all of which are harder than ever to press.

As for exactly how many records they’ll be able to get out the door monthly? Well, it takes about 30 seconds to press a record, and Outta Wax has ordered two manual presses… you do the math?

Working alongside her brother and her friend Alex Stillman, Pette’s proud that this plant will be a majority woman-owned operation: “This is an industry that is very male dominated, and one thing I’m really interested in doing is paving the way for everybody who’s not a white man to get into the business.” She’d love it if Outta Wax’s employees were musicians and artists themselves, working schedules flexible enough to allow them to tour without being worried about losing their jobs.

Another cool thing: Pette and co. are sharing their space with Soft Cult Studio, a new collective of audio engineers who will open a recording studio in Outta Wax’s space.

“Our ultimate idea is to be as much of a one stop shop as we can be,” Pette says. She’s already looking forward to future Art-A-Whirls, when they can host live pressing demos and introduce the community to Northeast’s new pressing plant.

The space has been secured and the equipment has been ordered, but Pette estimates that it’ll be at least four months until even the test test presses get going. (Their presses should ship “imminently,” and shipping takes around two months, but you know. Supply chain issues, etc.) They’re spending the interim painting and prepping the space, getting ready to hit the ground running later this year.

As for Minnesota’s role as an emerging record-pressing mecca? Pette couldn’t be more delighted. While she jokes that their output will be “a drop in the bucket,” every new facility should be a boon for musicians—especially those without major-label backing. She hints that a third, unnamed party has been asking about whether they too should think about opening a record plant in Minnesota.

“The more the merrier,” Pette says. “I’m more concerned about just being good stewards for the vinyl community, the whole music community here.”