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The pursuit of starting a reissue label


The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Wed May 03, 2017 7:08 am

OK NWO community, I've stated before my desire to start a reissue label and I may finally be making some steps towards it. The biggest headache of the process is licensing, as there are 2 licenses required for each release. There is the master license, which is when the label agrees to license the material, and then there's the mechanical license, which is more to do with the publishers approval. The master license can be the most expensive part of the process. For the types of music I would like to reissue, meaning albums from 25+ years ago, a license could be $5000, possibly less or considerably more. But making contact with labels to even start the process has been a no go because they just do not respond, or finding a proper contact is just not clear. So I signed up with a company yesterday that specializes in licensing and have years of experience. For my initial release idea, they will be providing me all the necessary contact info needed for both master and mechanical licensing, and the process of how to go about it. If the cost of my first license is doable, I will release other projects. And that's where you will come in. If I can establish any sort of relationship with any major record labels, I would like to take a poll at that time to see what albums people would most like to see reissued. This would be something that has never been released on CD, or poorly done. I was also thinking of making it a community effort for those titles, like doing a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for licensing. The cost of manufacturing isn't terrible. For 1000 copies of a CD with an 8 page full color book and clear tray with color backing, the cost is around $1500+. So we will see what comes of this first attempt at licensing before I can really get enthusiastic. For anyone wanting vinyl reissues, the cost of manufacture is painful. A standard black vinyl LP at the 150 grams with a color inner sleeve comes to over $3000 for just a few hundred copies.

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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby negative1 » Wed May 03, 2017 7:18 am

Good luck with this venture.

later
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby q89747 » Wed May 03, 2017 7:19 am

I know this is a longshot because it's not NW but I've always thought the music of Monoculture (aka Nick Eymann) deserved wider release. As far as I know it was only ever net-only.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby discoginfo » Wed May 03, 2017 7:30 am

Good luck! So the label/owner wants 5000 upfront, while you pay the manufacturing costs and takes all the risk. I guess that's a good deal for them, so why don't they reply? Anyway there are still many albums not on CD, not to mention B-sides and 12" versions. An idea is to contact the original musician/artist, maybe they could help, if not financially.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Wed May 03, 2017 7:43 am

discoginfo wrote:Good luck! So the label/owner wants 5000 upfront, while you pay the manufacturing costs and takes all the risk. I guess that's a good deal for them, so why don't they reply? Anyway there are still many albums not on CD, not to mention B-sides and 12" versions. An idea is to contact the original musician/artist, maybe they could help, if not financially.


Yes, there are many stories about how reissues are done for the love of the music, not profit because there rarely is one. For example, if I price a CD at $12 and use something like CD Baby for distribution, they take $4 per CD so that would leave me $8. If all 1000 CD's sold, the take would be $8000, and that likely wouldn't even cover the cost of licensing and manufacturing.

Oh, and often times the artist has no involvement whatsoever with licensing, they generally signed all of that away on their recording contact, though there are rare occasions where they do have to be involved. I remember many years ago someone asking Josie Cotton why her first 2 albums weren't (then) on CD and if she could rectify that. She responded that it was completely out of her hands and entirely up to the label. Artists who released on indie labels are different, many did or do now own their material and I have been informed that these situations are the easiest and most cost effective.

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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby discoginfo » Wed May 03, 2017 8:07 am

Yes, I mean maybe the artists have connections... or maybe even some demos.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby thunderbird2 » Wed May 03, 2017 8:23 am

I do hope this comes off for you as you are one person who seems to know what the people want and it seems labels like cherry red are now choosing less and less new wave / electronic albums to release

here would be my starter for ten

Secession a dark enchantment ( i know its been on CD before but very hard to get hold of and if you could do an expanded version would be great)
WIN UH tears baby ( same as above)
Trevor Herion beauty life ( if could include wonderlust that would be brilliant i know that was the fallout club)
spacemonkey on the beam
Fiat Lux hired history plus........
Private Lives Prejudice and pride
Berlin Blondes

would be great if you could expand to 12" collections as well for some of those bands that only released a few tracks ( loved the mood one you did)
This island earth see that glow / take me to the fire
Vision UK lucifers Friend or love dance
Robert Marlow face of dorian gray extended / No heart extended
fra lippo lippi come summer extended
Associates those first impressions extended
Secession touch part 3 or michael
seona dancing bitter heart extended
fallout club wonderlust extended
win shampoo tears
bourgie bourgie breaking point extended
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Wed May 03, 2017 9:52 am

Hmmm, so I've already got more info that is a little disappointing. It seems that publishers of a song can be spread across more than one company and negotiations will have to go through each. Plus, the licensing label will also require a percentage of the sales $$ in addition to their licensing fee. So it is likely going to be even more of a lose cash project, unless I price the CDs higher, which I would likely do. There's only so much loss you can take before the entire project becomes detrimental.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby swerve » Wed May 03, 2017 3:08 pm

Good luck Scott.

Perhaps it's a myth but I thought many contracts had a 25 to 30 year old window or so that would be exclusive to the label as to who owns the rights from the time of the release and after that extended period of time a lot of these contracts expire and it opens the door for the artists to own their back catalogue if they so choose. If this is the case I'm not sure what is written as to a negotiated amount to see these rights transfer if any amount would even come into play.

Obviously with it being 2017 anything early 1987 and prior if it's 30 years, wide open to the whole decade of the 80's if it's 25 could be in this scenario if in fact this is the case and if so reaching out to these acts might be an avenue to pursue.

You'll find / have already experienced trying to track down master tapes is often fruitless and time consuming. With your expertise though a near mint / mint vinyl copy would still do.

Having worked for SPG Music here in Canada for a few years from late '93 to early '95 and involved with compiling / consulting on all 5 volumes of the Hardest Hits ( the first few volumes before I actually worked for them ) and the first 3 volumes of the Classic Alternatives series it was difficult even then to track down masters. Approximately 70% of those tracks were from masters with the other 30% the label having a difficult time finding them after months of looking and not being able to wait any longer for them to find the master so the compilation release could finally come out. I'm sure some they never would have been able to track down. Other times they would send the wrong version of what you wanted after waiting for so long.

As well Warner here in Canada at that time wanted high guaranteed volumes you would have to pay for which wasn't doable based on what you thought you could sell. The other labels had much lower demands on quantity. The only way around that at the time I believe was if you could go through Warner in another country, I believe it had something to do with being able to do the necessary paperwork / where the master could be obtained from or something along those lines with them and not having to deal with Warner domestically but most times that wasn't available as an option.

Of course this deals with compilations where I think you would prefer to focus on one artist but I thought I would give you some insight and bring up the 25 to 30 year rights possibility. As Surly points out below though a compilation in the eyes of the label also occurs when you want to add extras to the release proper.
Last edited by swerve on Thu May 04, 2017 6:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Surly » Wed May 03, 2017 3:41 pm

Rubellan wrote:Hmmm, so I've already got more info that is a little disappointing. It seems that publishers of a song can be spread across more than one company and negotiations will have to go through each. Plus, the licensing label will also require a percentage of the sales $$ in addition to their licensing fee. So it is likely going to be even more of a lose cash project, unless I price the CDs higher, which I would likely do. There's only so much loss you can take before the entire project becomes detrimental.


I think the Kickstarter route is a good idea. As far as price, with vinyl reissues commanding $30-$40 these days and import CDs hitting US shores in the $18 range, I think that the $16-$19 range is totally reasonable for a good reissue.

I've shared before that different labels have different polices around licensing. Not sure if things have changed recently, but it's my understanding that a label like Sony would be easier to license from; they tend to "give away the store" in regards to bonus tracks. Warner/Rhino, on the other hand, tended to have higher guarantees, and those would be even higher if bonus tracks are included. That's why you see labels like Wounded Bird just do straight album reissues or 2-fers on Warner albums, while their Sony reissues often had a wealth of bonus tracks.

Kissing The Pink is a good example - Wounded Bird reissued Naked in the '00s based partially on my feedback (I was at Warner at the time). I suggested remixes and the tracks from the self-titled EP that didn't appear on Naked. In the end, they had to do a 2-fer with Naked and the EP even though a couple of tracks were repeated; if it was just the album and extra tracks, Warner would have considered it a "compilation" and it would have come with a much higher guarantee.

In any case, good luck. It will probably mean operating at a loss in the beginning but profits can come as your catalog builds. My suggestion would be for the Payola$ albums because they've never been on CD, but I don't know how easy it would be to license from Universal.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby elviscaprice » Thu May 04, 2017 12:13 pm

My personal opinion is that it's a losing affair. Everyone I know wants to stream from an online service. Vinyl has had a little resurgence, but is still only 10 percent of CD sales. Both are numbered in their days. And with MQA, they now have another format to try and fleece the public.
I think it would be far more profitable, or at least not a loss, to do bootlegs behind the curtain, unless you can work directly with the artist, then online downloads. Run and gun. But I got to give you credit for wanting to be legit. If anybody could pull it off it would be you. You definitely have the talent.

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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Thu May 04, 2017 5:36 pm

Thanks for the support guys. I sent my request to Sony today and already got a response for further info. Once they get that info from me, I'm told a phone call will be scheduled to discuss the process and the next steps. I'm excited but it will all depend on the cost of the license I negotiate. I've also been researching the publishing websites and now have a good idea of where to look for that part of the licensing for potential future projects.

Yes, sales of physical media have fallen, but there will always be those who like physical media, be it vinyl or CD. I like them both and I know a lot of others here do as well. I look at a label like Cherry Red, they have expanded so much since I first got involved with them and they pump out so many releases at a time, and some are really great quality. They obviously are not losing money but have likely developed good relationships with labels and are getting some excellent licensing prices. If my plan is only to press 1000 CD's per title, I don't doubt those will sell out over 1-3 years. Even though I'm applying for a U.S. license, they will be available as an import all over the world, not to mention eBay. If I can pull off this first title without a several thousand dollar loss after stock sells out, I would definitely do more.

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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Barmy » Thu May 04, 2017 9:45 pm

Cherry Red and others seem to be moderately clueless about what is wanted. For example, ANY old CD that is actually selling for $50 (random number; you see $100+++) plus should be reissued. (Obviously this leaves aside rights issues, plus the fact that just because something is on amazon or discogs, or (remember them) eBay, for that amount doesn't mean they are ACTUALLY selling for that amount.) So someone with knowledge on that issue might make some money.

There are also a number of legacy bands never issued on CD. Again, rights, blah blah. Fiat Lux, Vice Versa, the list could go on, and has, on this website.

Secession's OOP CD is pointed out ad nauseam but there must be some reason why it hasn't been reissued. (Frankly it's not really that great.)

There are occasional vinyl-sourced CD bootlegs that cover this ground, at low prices. For example Trevor Herion. Would I buy that again sourced from the master (hard to believe that is even findable). No. The bootleg is fine.

Cherry Red and the few remaining non-bootleg sources have become increasing boring, with a few bright spots. So there may be room here. Vinyl nostalgia seems passe to me; CD nostalgia may be the next wave!
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby df118 » Fri May 05, 2017 12:51 am

What about more well known artists whose 12"s / Versions have never been gathered or issued on digital media - Associates, Psychedelic Furs, The Cure...
I know some series/producers have followed this route but never with these artists.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Fred Taghon » Fri May 05, 2017 2:36 am

Good luck! Just some very brief feedback...

I would support a Kickstarter effort.

I've made several purchases from CDBaby and would buy from there again with confidence.

I still prefer a physical cd over vinyl or download but I have also happily bought WAV/AIFF or even FLAC downloads in abundance when a physical cd was either not available or too expensive (in cases where I only wanted specific tracks).

Everyone loves a deal, but I would personally pay a fair price for a quality master-sourced reissue of an album or compilation of mixes I've always wanted on cd. $12 is a great deal but I would (and have) pay the $16-$19 price mentioned without much hesitation.

Off the top of my head these are the three albums I've always wanted on cd:

SSQ "Playback"
Jon St. James apparently has the rights because he recently made this an iTunes release. But some of the tracks were slightly remixed. All the original versions plus the 7" and 12" promo mixes of "Synthicide", 12" mixes of "Big Electronic Beat" and B-side "Fire" are my personal holy grail.

Toni Basil "Word Of Mouth" (USA Version)
Several comps have been released over the years but sound quality has been a mixed bag and NONE have "Rock On" which is pretty kick-ass and only one had "Shoppin' From A To Z" but it was a poorly done vinyl transfer. These two tracks alone, sourced from master tapes would be enough to get me to hand over some cash. If master-sourced tracks like the 7" and 12" versions of "Shoppin' From A To Z", 7" Edit and 12" mix of "Mickey" (I believe there are also Spanish versions), and the 12" Version of "You Gotta Problem" (which is actually just a cut n paste extension of the album version) were included...hell yeah! Her video compilation also featured a few versions of album tracks that were different from the originals.

Toni Basil "Toni Basil"
Again most of the tracks from this album are out there spread across a few different compilations. One release DID do the entire album but most of the tracks were mastered at the incorrect speed and the sound quality was rather poor. As such, decent quality master-sourced versions of "Suspense" and "I Don't Hear You" are still to be had, and the original album version of "Do You Wanna Dance" has never been on any CD (though oddly enough the 7" remix HAS). Beyond the album tracks, master-sourced Extended 12" and Dub mixes of "Over My Head", "Street Beat", "Suspense" and "Do You Wanna Dance" have never been on CD.
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