Changing the Record: Bridget Small

Published: 8 February 2024

Crowd looking through shelves of records and a yellow sign in the background that reads independent music exchange

by Creative Victoria

The Eighty-Six music festival, held last year, was a celebration of the music scene of Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and a boost for local businesses.

Thornbury’s Program Records was among those to benefit, pressing 10,000 records for the festival’s Independent Music Exchange.

We spoke to Program Records’ Bridget Small about how the business started up.

When and how did Program Records start?

Program Records was founded by Steve Lynch and Dave Roper in 2017 after they purchased two Warmtone pressing machines from Viryl Technologies. They wanted to reduce lead times for Australian artists and record labels with another option to press records locally and avoid having to import records from other parts of the world. Program officially started pressing records in 2020.

You started up just as the pandemic hit – how did you overcome that?

Bridget Smalls standing in front of a shelf of recordsThe team from Viryltech couldn’t come to Australia due to the ban on international travel. Luke and Steve would arrive at work early in the morning (end of the workday for Canada) and get instructions via zoom on what parts to assemble next.

Is there demand for vinyl records in Australia?

The vinyl market in Australia is small but strong! During the pandemic, we were bombarded with orders so we were booked out for months at a time. This was the case with pressing plants across the globe and a lot of artists and record labels were essentially locked out of the major pressing plants in Europe. To combat this problem, a lot of the major pressing plants increased their capacity which has therefore decreased lead times, freeing up capacity all over the world. We are definitely a lot less busy ourselves as our lead-time has reduced from three to four months, to eight weeks!

Are there many pressing plants in Australia like yours?

There are currently three other pressing plants in Australia, Zenith Records also located in Naarm/Melbourne and Suitcase Records which has recently opened in Meanjin/Brisbane.

Which artists do you press records for?

We press records for a range of artists and records labels, both major and independent.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard started pressing with us in 2021 and this was such a blessing for us as a small business. Their support has genuinely kept us going - we love Gizz! Recently, my favourite release we have pressed is definitely Exek’s The Map and the Territory. This was a release that was also available at the recent Independent Music Exchange.

What impact did the Eighty-Six festival have on your business?

We were lucky enough to sponsor the Independent Music Exchange as part of the Eighty-Six festival. We offered a discount to the participating labels for pressing a release to be sold at the event. This enticed a number of our favourite labels to put together a release in time for the festival. Through our involvement, we were able to book in over 10,000 special releases. We’ve also had interest from a few other labels after chatting to labels over the weekend.

What’s next for your business?

We’ve just launched our website which is pretty exciting! Funnily enough, we’ve been so busy with orders over the last three years that we didn’t want to advertise our business and turn people away with long lead times. However, as we’ve been able to reduce this significantly, we’re definitely open for business.

The dream has always been to hold gigs in our Thornbury warehouse, hopefully in the not- too-distant future!

The Eighty-Six festival was supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

First published on Creative Victoria.

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