Vinyl Revival: How Detroit Became a Hub for the Industry’s Comeback

Whether making them, selling them, or simply spinning them, Detroit is teeming with people who are passionate about records
Vinyl Revival: How Detroit Became a Hub for the Industry’s Comeback

Side 1: A Tale of Two Presses

Archer, Third Man, and a waning industry that roared back to life

By Steve Friess

Photographs by Chuk Nowak

Side 2: The Record Keepers

It was 1989, and I was searching for the sound of a funky drummer in the techno room at the original Record Time in Eastpointe. The much-beloved store, which closed in 2011, not only curated the best in indie rock, rap, and metal; it was also on the cutting edge of Detroit’s electronic music scene, which was in the process of taking over dance floors worldwide.

As I flipped through one white-label promo after another, each housed in a generic white sleeve, I came across a 12-inch that featured the words “Run 2” written in orange — and my knees buckled. It was the third and final single of New Order’s 1989 album Technique, but a lawsuit by Mr. Rocky Mountain High, John Denver, claimed the guitar break was lifted from his “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” so only 2,000 copies of “Run 2” were pressed before it was deleted.I didn’t have the internet 31 years ago to confirm any of these details, of course, but I had heard “Run 2” 12-inches were going for more than $100 each. And I’d just found two of them.Every record collector knows the electric charge that went through my body that day. Sweat beaded on my brow, my hands shook like maracas, and

It was 1989, and I was searching for the sound of a funky drummer in the techno room at the original Record Time in Eastpointe. The much-beloved store, which closed in 2011, not only curated the best in indie rock, rap, and metal; it was also on the cutting edge of Detroit’s electronic music scene, which was in the process of taking over dance floors worldwide.

As I flipped through one white-label promo after another, each housed in a generic white sleeve, I came across a 12-inch that featured the words “Run 2” written in orange — and my knees buckled. It was the third and final single of New Order’s 1989 album Technique, but a lawsuit by Mr. Rocky Mountain High, John Denver, claimed the guitar break was lifted from his “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” so only 2,000 copies of “Run 2” were pressed before it was deleted.I didn’t have the internet 31 years ago to confirm any of these details, of course, but I had heard “Run 2” 12-inches were going for more than $100 each. And I’d just found two of them. Every record collector knows the electric charge that went through my body that day. Sweat beaded on my brow, my hands shook like maracas, and  I scanned the room looking to body slam anyone who might try to steal My Precious records. Fast-forward 31 years and the “Run 2” 12-inch, which had a print run of 20,000 (not 2,000), sells for a measly median price of $8.44 on Discogs.com. While the value of “Run 2” didn’t live up to my overinflated expectations, I’ll never forget the joy of finding those singles. The chase is a big part of what makes collecting records so compelling. But the ultimate reason why any of us take the time to browse through mildew-laden LP crates as we shove aside the 50th Lawrence Welk record is because we love music.

Streaming is here to stay, but there’s no thrill in an algorithm, no detective work in an auto-generated playlist, and no guarantee the obscure record you love will ever make its way into the digital realm. Thus, the search is always on.

The Detroit-area collectors we’ve featured here include three DJs and a music writer, so discovering recorded sounds is essential to their professions. But they’re also people who love music so deeply that, no matter their jobs, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find them rummaging through dusty vinyl bins for that next life-affirming song, the alternate-cover-art version of their favorite LP, or that ultra-rare 12-inch single that’s now worth nothing more than a cherished memory.

By Christopher Porter


The Record Keepers

Ann Delisi | Mark Stryker | Dan Austin | Carl Craig
Juan Atkins | Mike Dutkewych | Andrey Douthard & Anna Atanassova


Side 3: Take These for a Spin

Stepping into a record store can be a bit intimidating for the casual consumer or the vinyl virgin. So much music … where to begin? In the spirit of National Record Store Day — an annual celebration of vinyl and its independent purveyors around the world, happening this year on June 20 — we asked owners and staff at nine local shops to share their recommendations for records worth adding to your collection. Happy hunting!

— Compiled by Kailey Howell


Side 4: How to Get into the Grooves

Third Man - turntable
Photographs by CJ Benninger

Whether you’re new to vinyl or you’re regretting your decision to yard-sale away the crates of LPs you lugged around for so many years, if you want to get (back) into tunes in grooves, you’re going to need a turntable. Here are three possible paths to a properly spinning platter.

— By Dan Caccavaro

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