The history of the Artone vinyl factory in Haarlem
Introduction by Ariane Slinger
Casper SLINGER (my father) and his brother Willem are the founders of the vinyl records factory ARTONE in Haarlem, The Netherlands, that was built in the Waarderpolder in 1957.
At the end of 1956 the two brothers were active in the oil industry with their father and succeeded in making a huge profit because of the Suez crisis. They had kept a vast oil reserve in the Netherlands. Suddenly the price of this oil increased tremendously because of the transport problems to Europe. That lasted from the end of 1956 to the beginning of 1957. Suddenly they became very rich.
This permitted them to make a dream come true: setting up their own Record Company!
The Slinger brothers were ardent jazz lovers. Louis Armstrong and Tony Bennet were among Casper’s favourites. The two bought American jazz records at the Beethovenstraat in Amsterdam. In a small boutique, Gloria, they befriended a certain John Vis, who worked there as a salesman. He had a profound knowledge of music and as a consequence of the conversations with John Vis, Casper and Willem developed the idea to start their own record company and to employ him as a Director.
It was Casper’s idea to call the new company Artone. He used the expression “C’est le ton [Artone] qui fait la musique” his whole life and that became the company’s slogan.
The Slinger brothers discovered that most Dutch record companies showed relatively little interest in introducing jazz records to the market. This was their chance! They decided to travel to America. They visited all the American jazz labels and offered their services: to press their records in the Netherlands and to establish a distribution network in Europe for them.
In 1957 the former hotel Funckler in the Kruisstraat in Haarlem was bought that was converted to an office building. Immediately after that Casper built a factory in the Waarderpolder in Haarlem and invested a large sum of money in expensive German machines to be able to produce their own vinyl records, and the Company took off!
Wim [Bill] Slinger, Dave Brubeck, Casper Slinger
From 1957 to 1970 ARTONE became extremely successful in producing records for all the main American records labels and had also several Dutch artists under contract.
In 1961 ARTONE became the distributor of the American CBS label in the Benelux and later on in Europe. [Billboard 16 Mar 1963]
In 1971 the CBS GROUP acquired ARTONE and the vinyl record factory from the Slinger Brothers. [ThoughtCo – Columbia Records Profile and History]
End of the eighties CBS was acquired by SONY MUSIC and the name of the Company changed to Sony Music Entertainment (Netherlands) BV. [Wikipedia – CBS Records International]
In 1998 SONY MUSIC sold its Record Factory to one of his clients, Ton Vermeulen, who changed the Company’s name to “Record Industry”. Ton, against all odds, survived the difficult times that the Vinyl Industry has been going through and with the revival of Vinyl these past years his factory is now the biggest vinyl records producer in Europe!
Ton and his team have been celebrating Record Industry’s 20th Anniversary in 2018.
Thanks to Ton Vermeulen the old ARTONE factory of the Slinger brothers is living an entire new life.
After Casper Slinger passed away in 2016 his widow Adriana and his eldest daughter Ariane Slinger were invited to make a “Tour of Honour” of the record factory by Ton Vermeulen and his wife Mieke on April 12th, 2017, the pictures of which have been added to this article.
In the following articles you will find the English translation of an article written by the Dutch historian Harry Knipschild in June 2018 , who was also invited on this same Tour with the Slinger family, who tells about the start of the record industry in Haarlem, the tour at the factory and Ton Vermeulen’s story, how he came into the record industry and what he has achieved at Record Industry after he acquired the factory over the past 20 years.
Haarlem, the City of Vinyl
When it comes to manufacturing vinyl records, the Dutch city of Haarlem has played an interesting role for many years. Ger Oord (1913-2010), who was born in Haarlem, was the first person to install record presses after the Second World War. Oord was a really good salesperson, but to sell records, you did need to have them yourself. [Vinyl uit Haarlem: Record Industry]
In 1948, Oord told a journalist from the monthly magazine Tuney Tunes that ‘I don’t see many opportunities for importing records to Holland in the coming years. However, the demand for good records is so great that a factory in Holland would be a good idea. We can get the raw materials and stamper ready-made from England. The only difference the buyer will notice are the words “Made in Holland”. Otherwise these records will be completely the same as their English counterparts.’ With these words, the entrepreneur explained that buyers had no need to worry about the quality of the product. [50 jaar platenzaak Oord in Haarlem]
Oord’s decision laid the foundation for ‘Haarlem, the City of Vinyl’, as it would later come to be known. Record companies like Bovema, Artone, Negram, Ariola, Delta, and CBS were based there, and you could find them on the Kruisstraat, Jansstraat, Zijlweg, and of course on the Bronsteeweg in the nearby town of Heemstede. The ‘Ten Days of the Records’ – the joint campaign for promoting records back in the 1980s – was also organised from Haarlem.
The old office building of Artone on the Kruisstraat in Haarlem – ex Hotel Funckler – picture Ariane Slinger
Although Ger Oord was the first, he was not the only one who dared to build and equip a large record pressing plant. Some ten years later, in 1958, the Slinger brothers – who owned Artone – did the same. The complex they built in the Waarderpolder industrial area was so large that Artone specialised in exporting the records that came out of the factory. Because of this approach, Artone became an attractive partner for American record companies in particular – they could then deliver their goods to the European market through Haarlem, which is the capital of the province of North Holland.
CBS Records was prepared to pay the Slinger brothers a large sum of money for Artone, including the record factory ‘in the polder’. The Artone factory became the property of the American CBS Records and then of the Japanese firm Sony, which took over CBS in 1988. Ten years later, in 1998, the production firm came into Dutch hands again. In 1998, Ton Vermeulen became managing director of Record Industry, as the vinyl factory has been known since then. [MUSIC ON VINYL – How the black disc conquered the world]