Speaking of gray areas, I find the model that Wolfgang's Vault uses an interesting one. If you're not familiar with it, this started as an archive of live concert recordings that belonged to Bill Graham and BGP (Bill Graham Presents). The site offers free streaming of MP3's of these concerts but also provides downloads.
For the most part, BGP owns the rights to these recordings but the "Vault" also purchases concert recordings, archives them and sells downloads. Recent collections include some Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festival recordings. These can be purchased at up to 16/44.1 flac files (but were archived at 24/192 from 1/4-1/2" tape, mono, stereo, 3&4 track).
While I have absolutely no idea what kind of volume they do there, these are all recordings which aren't available in any other format.
On Jan 1, 2011, at 4:14 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Hi Brenda:
> This is an interesting question. There's a huge gray area with this -- namely albums that are now out of print on CD but are readily available in lossy-download formats (and, in a few cases, also available in full-rez downloads). For instance, Verve Music Group division of Universal has a whole web area called Verve Vault that lists many albums available only on iTunes and sometimes as Amazon downloads. Many or all of these were once out in CD, so Verve had digital masters so it was no big deal to produce lossy-format download files. I can't think of any titles that weren't out on CD, in fact, either worldwide, Japan only or USA only. The same is true for Blue Note -- some titles are now out of print but readily available at Amazon (sometimes for as little as $3.50 per album) and iTunes.
> The only cases I know of where something is released for download-only with no ability to buy a CD (or LP or 45-single) because none were printed, would be very-indie self-made albums and special one-off singles, like for instance the famous Bed Intruder song that was a YouTube and then iTunes sensation. You could also count cheapo compilations like Rhino Hi-5 collections on iTunes, but all of those tunes or at least the vast majority of them are in print on CD elsewhere.
> In the classical world, some orchestras may be releasing concerts as downloadable files only now, but those typically weren't published on CD anyway.
> I would say that some indie albums sell many more downloads than physical media, given that the CD's are sometimes hard to purchase (ie not at Amazon or very costly at Amazon or must be purchased, at full list price, directly from the artist). But almost every smaller-time artist I've ever seen or known prints CD's because they sell them at live events if nothing else.
> Finally, the last figures I saw, which were for 2009, showed CD's vastly, _vastly_ outselling downloads as far as dollars but the big issue was that downloads were gaining as far as numbers, and all of those numbers gained were sold dirt-cheap compared to a printed CD. Given the cost of inventory and the demise of any large-scale sales channel beyond Amazon and Wal-Mart, companies are taking back-catalog and slow-selling recent released out of print quickly, figuring it's cheaper to make less with the downloads but not have the headache of physical inventory.
> Meanwhile, I've been collecting lists and catalogs of new-issue vinyl and I estimate there are now more than 5000 titles in active catalogs, probably more if you could Japan-only releases and even more if you count gray goods. This is a drop in the bucket compared to still-available-cheap CD's, but who'd a thunk it?
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Nelson-Strauss, Brenda" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 1:49 PM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Digital download stats
> I know there are stats for the number of tracks purchased as digital downloads vs. number of physical copies purchased. But does anyone know if there are stats available for the number of online-download-only tracks/albums being published? That is, music for which no physical CD or LP is produced for sale. I am trying to track how rapidly the change from physical copies to online-only is progressing.
> Brenda Nelson-Strauss
> Archives of African American Music and Culture
> Indiana University
> 2805 E. 10th Street, Suite 180
> Bloomington, IN 47408
> [log in to unmask]
> (812) 855-7530