I met Anouk through my job at Furnace Record Pressing, and when I started this blog she immediately came to mind. She wears many hats but her official title is the ‘sales manager’ at Record Industry in the Netherlands. When she’s not answering emails, problem solving, or helping to set up a recording studio she loves going to concerts, mostly in smaller venues like Paradiso and Melkweg in Amsterdam. I’m happy to give you a look into her day to day.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I studied at the Art Academy (documentary and television making) and worked as a producer and director for several television programs for a few years. Until my friend Ton Vermeulen asked me in 2000 if I wanted to work for him, in this vinyl pressing plant he took over from Sony Music two years before.
It was crazy busy at that time and he needed a trouble shooter. The funny thing is, at first I was in doubt about this job, totally different from what I did before, and having to work in a very unsexy building, a concrete block with a bunch of machines. Eighteen years later I’m still here and enjoying every minute of it. Each year has been different production wise, from very hectic times to a really slow and uncertain period, and now it’s extremely busy again, pressing 40 to 50,000 records a day, an amazing quantity which 9 years ago was still unthinkable for us! But also my own job has been changing over the years as well, next to my role as a Sales Manager for the company, I got the chance to produce our book Passion For Vinyl Part 1, released 5 years ago, and this year Part II. Next to that I was the Project Manager for a new Mastering Studio and Live Room which we recently built and about to be taken into production. It’s called the Artone Studio and it’s one of a kind, offering direct-to-disc cutting and recording on unique vintage equipment. My focus is now shifting to promoting the studio and building the brand ‘Record Industry’ and ‘Artone Studio’.
What is a day in the life like?
I start in the office around 8:30, eating my breakfast behind my computer (not a good thing – I know – but I don’t make time for that at home, as I need to prepare breakfast and lunch for our two boys), checking the emails which came in the night before. I always try to start with my ‘to do’ list but I never succeed, as I get swayed by the issues of the day. So many emails and things which need attention right away, problems which need to be solved, questions from colleagues, suppliers and clients which need to be answered. One of the things I find very difficult, is trying to focus on the things you actually want to do. But with the number of emails coming in, that’s sometimes very hard. In between emails and phone calls I work on my ‘projects’ now varying from refurbishing our QC department to writing text and making up a design for a brochure and website for Artone Studio. My day mostly ends around 18:00.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
There are so many aspects I love about this job. One of the most rewarding things, even after eighteen years, is when a band or artist comes to the factory to pick-up their (very often first) album. Their reaction to holding the vinyl in their hands is priceless…. to many musicians their album isn’t an album yet, until it’s tangible in the form of a vinyl album.
The two books I produced have been really cool projects, meeting so many great and unique people in all these different places and record shops. And I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given by Ton and Mieke (owners of Record Industry) to design and set up the Artone Studio, together with a great team of people.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I had to think about this answer for a long time, because the first thing that came to mind was ‘there’s no difficult part’. But the thing I mentioned before, the number of emails and being absorbed by the issues of the day, can be frustrating as the day passes as if its nothing…I guess that’s because its a production process we’re working with. Sometimes unpredictable issues happen and than Murphy’s Law is operative meaning everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But luckily this doesn’t happen a lot anymore.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Oh my – I don’t really have a ‘tip’. The only thing I can say – but that’s a personal opinion which can apply to many things – is that’s it’s important to take pride in what you do, no matter which job or project. It helps if you love what you do, as it makes things easier.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I’m not a real collector, I buy records from bands or musicians that I like, but I don’t have a “theme” in my collection. My record collection isn’t that big, perhaps a few hundred records and same for cds, and actually it can’t really grow a lot more, as then we would have to move houses. There are a few favorite records which I play a lot, although they vary from time to time depending on the mood, the type of weather or my favorite artist or band at that moment. I do go to record fairs and shops, but they puzzle me, too much choice, too many stalls and boxes with records. I visit them because I like the atmosphere and the people who are digging for records.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
From a personal point of view, I’m very excited about the Artone Studio and can’t wait to start working with many great musicians and artists who want to record in the studio.
But with regards to the industry in general, I wonder how much longer the growth in vinyl will continue. What we see now, is a shift in the types of orders, lower quantities (especially on the reissue side) but much more titles than last year. I guess the reissue ‘pond’ will once dry out (although we still press thousands of ‘Hotel California‘, ‘Kind of Blue‘ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ each month) and what will happen then. The time has changed, there aren’t a lot of artist anymore who sell as much albums as Michael Jackson did or more recent artist like Adele and Ed Sheeran.
I do believe vinyl is here to stay, but the quality of the product (audio, vinyl and print) will become more and more important and that’s where we as Record Industry, will have to distinguish ourselves and guard that quality.
Anything else you want to share?
“I admire your dedication to vinyl, you rock!”
Artone Studio: @artone_studio
Passion for Vinyl: @passionforvinyl