It takes more than a good voice and catchy tunes to sell a 100 million records.


In journalism school, young reporters are taught to “localize” a story. That is, take a national news story and make it relevant to their particular audience. Well, here’s a bit of localization aimed at all you manufacturing engineers out there, courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As the world mourns the untimely death of pop icon Michael Jackson, who sold hundreds of millions of records in his long career, take a moment to think about how automation made it possible to produce all those vinyl albums, cassettes and CDs quickly, affordably and at a high quality level. Think about all the manufacturing jobs that even a single best-selling recording can produce-jobs in printing, converting, plastic molding, electronics and automation.

Turns out Jackson’s mega-hit record, Thriller, was produced at the CBS Records album and cassette manufacturing facility in Carrollton, GA. The plant is shuttered now-a victim of the digital music sea change-but 20 years ago, it employed a whopping 1,500 people.

In November 1982, when Thriller was released, the plant was running three shifts a day, seven days a week, for eight months. In all, the plant manufactured 68 million copies of Thriller. Estimates of worldwide sales range upward of 100 million.

You can read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece here.

And next time someone tells you entertainment is more important in this economy than manufacturing, you can respond, “Beat It!”