United record pressing.

Author:Heffes, Ellen M.
Position:THE OFFICE - Interview

How did the company get started?

When United Record Pressing (URP) began in Nashville in 1949, it was known as Southern Plastics. One of its top clients was Vee Jay Records (out of Chicago). It was Vee Jay that pressed the first Beatles 7-inch records (referred to as 7") in America, prior to Capitol Records signing the group.

In 1962, Southern Plastics relocated to the current site of United Record Pressing--the same location where those Beatles records were pressed. Southern Plastics changed its name to United Record Pressing in 1971.


In addition to the numerous important records that have been pressed in this plant, URP managed to create some history on its own. When the current URP plant opened in the early 1960s, it was a very different time in the South and there were few restaurants or hotels in Nashville that would offer their services to African-Americans. With top clients like Vee Jay Records and Motown being run by people of color, the company was in need of accommodations for their clients.

So URP created an apartment located above the factory that we now call the "Motown Suite." The suite is still on view to guests touring the plant and displays the same furnishings that these executives were offered--a common room with a bar, a turntable, enough seating to entertain guests, a full bathroom, a double-occupancy bedroom, a kitchen equipped with an old push-button stove and other novel 1960s decor.

URP still uses the kitchen as a meeting room, and staff sits at the same '60s dinette set that the famous executives and artists used.

Another feature of historical significance is the party room--a large room that was once used as an event room and hosted record label signing parties for folks including Wayne Newton, The Cowsills and a then-16-year-old country singer named Hank Williams Jr.

The room now functions as a museum of Southern Plastics/United Record Pressing's history, along with a brief history of recorded music. The museum room features some of the original furniture from the party room's heyday.

What about competitors?

Our chief competitors are Rainbo Records and RTI in California.

What events are significant in its evolution?

When record production was at its lowest point, several of the major labels gave us their rights to royalties from record production. Artists like Jack White (formerly of the White Stripes) and others regained control of the rights to their music on vinyl and started niche...

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