Record Store Day (April 20) is just days away, and SPIN has already tipped you off to plenty of exclusives, reissues, and other treasures, but this year’s official ambassador — noted vinyl purist Jack White — has one last surprise up his dapper sleeve. On April 20, White’s Third Man record store (located in Nashville) will debut the Third Man Recording Booth, a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine that can record up to two minutes audio and press it onto 6-inch phonograph discs.
“Whether it be a song, a message to a lover, an audio postcard or just the curiosity of a process that has mystified so many folks for ages, the ability to ‘hear yourself as others hear you’ is not only a tagline here, it’s an invitation, a charge, a call to arms,” reads a corresponding press release.
As the official announcement points out, these kinds of “make your own record” booths were popular in the middle of the 20th century before falling out of vogue in the ’60s and ’70s; Now the Third Man Recording Booth will be the only machine of its kind that will be both operational and open to the public.
“Certain beautiful experiences can only happen in the environment of a record store,” Jack White said in a statement, “And I just thought that nothing could drive that point home more than a one-of-a-kind machine that lets you not only record your own vinyl record, but send it to anyone, anywhere in the world to share a song, poem, or private message with.”
Anyone who uses the Third Man Recording Booth — which runs on custom Third Man tokens — will also be able to submit digital versions of their recordings to the Third Man Records website, where it will be made available for streaming. To see how the Voice-o-Graph works, watch the above video, directed by White and starring fellow Raconteur Brendan Benson. Head below to read Jack White’s full note to fans.
In one of my final acts as Record Store Day Ambassador, I encourage everyone who comes to the Third Man record store in Nashville to be able to hear themselves on a vinyl record, and maybe even mail it to someone they love.
Actively venturing to your local record shop is one of those honors and privileges in this life that we just shouldn’t take for granted. Certain beautiful experiences can only happen in the environment of a record store and I just thought that nothing could drive that point home more than a one-of-a-kind machine that lets you not only record your own vinyl record, but send it to anyone, anywhere in the world to share a song, poem, or private message with. I know those warm, scratchy tones send tingles up (and sometimes down) MY spine. Even if you aren’t instrumentally inclined, you could hold up an iPhone playing a song and sing along with the music and combine the best of all worlds: tangible, digital, and romantic. And for those still skeptical or not sure if they’re brave enough to do it, think of it this way; it’s almost the same thing as illegally downloading an mp3 and emailing it to someone. well…, almost. Enjoy record store day everyone. I hope that you find that special song and someone makes you smile in the process.
– Jack White III