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ARSCLIST  September 2014

ARSCLIST September 2014

Subject:

Re: Records Ruin the Landscape

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:44:34 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (84 lines)

Hi Don:

Eloquence comes out of the Australia division. There is some economic reason why they can still do 
single discs. I suspect it's some sweetheart deal on manufacturing costs. It may also be that a UMG 
administrative or marketing employee also has the skills to grab digital files out of their 
worldwide storage system and author CDs. There also may be some currency-exchange reason. I'm not 
privvy to the particulars but only the Australia division has been able to do that. UMG Classics 
"central office" in London, and the US division, also the Asian divisions, don't do single CDs of 
back-catalog anymore. In fact, the discount-priced many-CD box originated in Asia (Korea to be 
exact, for UMG at least) and was then enthusiastically adopted by the Europe and US divisions. I 
believe the same thing happened with Sony -- for instance the big box of RCA Living Stereo CD layers 
originated from their Korea unit. The reason is probably obvious -- very low manufacturing costs at 
Asian plants and a buying public desiring low-per-disc costs. It's a good business model.

Going back to the early 90s, the Philips and Decca units of Polygram opted to reissue large chunks 
of their back catalog as discounted 2CD sets with what I consider cheap-looking minimal packaging, 
but often quite acceptable remastering. Philps was called "Duo" and I forgot what Decca was called 
(sold under the London brand in the US for a long time). In both cases, there was no attempt made to 
highlight original album art or liner notes, and only minimal technical information given. Philips 
did make it a point to note when they used their Bitstream transfer system (ie they used a dCS 1-bit 
converter). In my opinion, both companies totally under-sold their back catalog, probably because 
they had massively expensive contracts with currently-recording conductors and opera singers and 
thus wanted to sell as many premium-priced new releases as they could. At Polygram and then UMG, the 
Decca, Philips and DGG back-catalog finally received some nice packaging and better remasters in the 
mid and late 90s with the "Originals" series. Given that some of those Decca Originals titles got 
extra mileage as included in the many-CD box sets (finally with original cover art) and as HDTracks 
downloads, that was remastering money well spent. Some of the DGG titles in their parallel late 90's 
series have also ended up as 96/24 downloads on HDTracks.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Don Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2014 3:34 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape


> On 25/09/2014, Tom Fine wrote:
>
>
>>
>> There are other classical recordings that fall into this niche. I've
>> been told by classical folks at both UMG and Sony that almost no
>> back-catalog titles can be reissued as single CDs anymore because they
>> never recoup the production and manufacturing costs. So if it can't be
>> fit into a box set, it likely won't be in print on CD.
>
> Universal issue a steady stream of single-disc or 2-disc reissues in
> their Eloquence series.
>
>> And, there's a
>> large quantity of material issued on CD in the 80s and 90s now out of
>> print and likely not economically viable to be remastered for HD
>> reissue. All of that material fits the niche for CD-resolution
>> downloads. I'd like to see them at most line-priced with rock and jazz
>> reissue CDs today, about $8 per disc of music. At that price, I think
>> profits can be made all around (especially since the production costs
>> were years ago and theoretically were recouped in the now-sold-out CD
>> inventory). I was hoping ArkivMusic would get into this area, because
>> they tried burn-on-demand CDs (which don't sell well, I note that
>> Amazon has backed off that idea too). I'm also surprised that iTunes
>> still doesn't sell lossless CD-resolution files. My bet is, it has to
>> do with their initial agreements with the record companies ("you can't
>> sell something as good as our CDs or we'll never get rid of this
>> inventory on our books!"). Times are different now.
>>
>> I'm very much interested in hearing Sanderling's version of Brahms,
>> but not $75 interested (price for a new copy of the CDs) or $25
>> interested for lossy MP3 (Amazon price). iTunes seems to only have the
>> Brahms 4th by Sanderling/Dresden, and only available in Europe, in
>> lossy format, for 10 euros. Pass! I'd pay the $25, out of curiosity,
>> for non-lossy downloads, especially if a PDF was included that told me
>> recording details.
>>
> I would be very very reluctant to pay for files with lossy compression.
>
> Regards
> -- 
> Don Cox
> [log in to unmask]
>
> 

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