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The pursuit of starting a reissue label


Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:01 am

Berlin Blondes is one of my favorite albums and I would love to reissue it, but I've had to put it lower on the list just because I expect the sales potential will be limited. Plus, I would only do it (in the future) if the master tapes can be found. EMI has been split between Universal and Warners and it's a little confusing as to who owns what. Warners owns just about anything from the Parlophone branch of EMI, though some things that were on the regular EMI label were part of Parlophone, so it will be a matter of checking with one label or the other to see who owns it when the time comes. And with how slow any part of the process is, it could take 3 months just to have one come back to say "No, we don't own that". And with some labels changing hands over and over, you can only hope they have kept their tapes in check. For example, I want to reissue some stuff owned by IRS records, and that label sold to EMI years ago, and that section of EMI is now part of Universal. Fingers crossed.

My releases are not necessarily based on what has not been on CD before. I'm pursuing some titles that are long out of print on CD, or some that are not so long out of print but have become very collectible. Plus, I will be adding bonus tracks where many of the previous releases didn't include any. I'm still very curious to see if going with the minimum pressing of 1000 (for some of the labels) will be too much, too little, or just right. I'm sure there's a price savings if I chose to ask for 3000 copies, and they usually only require you to press up 1000 initially and then another 500-1000 as they sell out. To date, only Warners states from the onset that the license will be for 3 years and I have that long to sell out the number agreed upon. I've not seen any other such statements for Sony or Universal yet.

The real frustrating part of all of this is that no one is really interested in sharing the steps of the process and the average of how long each step takes, so I chance asking the occasional question now and then and pissing off the rep. I know I got under the skin of my Sony rep because she recently assigned me to a subordinate sales rep to be my main point of contact. But it has been a struggle to get basic questions answered, most of which have now been answered, and I would inquire once every 3 weeks or so to see if there's been any progress. You know, they say persistence can show your interest and seriousness but you have to balance that with becoming a nuisance. I'm eager to email the Universal rep and inquire again about the title he thought might have some initial feedback after 2 weeks since it's now been 2 months. Plus, he never acknowledged receipt of the other 2 titles I requested a few weeks back, and I just want to verify he received them. It feels like I'm on a balance beam with these people but I'm trying to reconcile what part of it is just rudeness or disinterest and what part of it is that they're just too busy (but is anyone really too busy for a courtesy response once a month?) Warners is the only one I've had actual phone conversation with, and he was very pleasant. He has responded to most inquiries within the same week he's received them. The other two labels handle things differently. Warners has me involved directly with their reissue department, Universal and Sony have me working with higher ups in the Sales. And even though the extent of my license requests comes to well over 5 figures, it doesn't seem to be getting me any sort of enthusiasm from the labels. I guess that amount, and building a positive relationship with a new startup, is not really incentive to them. So I just wait it out and hope that in a year from now I will have about 10 titles released and be planning more, rather than horrified that I have boxes of unmoving stock and a depleted savings account. I do think some of my titles will excite some people, especially some of the albums that have not been on CD, or were only available briefly 30 years ago and now go for $300. I'll be eager to make official title announcements when the time comes for each, but I'll also expect some people to grumble about "Why are you reissuing that?" As I've seen with the existing reissue labels, there is no pleasing everyone so I will keep a thick skin. And it will be exciting nonetheless.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby swerve » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:47 am

Thanks again for the insight.

You mention adding bonus tracks.

As Surly pointed out back in May and my recollection of reissuing back in the early to mid 90's do the bonus tracks then make the release a "compliation" with a much higher guarantee or is this no longer the case or on a case by case basis with each label ?
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Surly » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:07 am

swerve wrote:Thanks again for the insight.

You mention adding bonus tracks.

As Surly pointed out back in May and my recollection of reissuing back in the early to mid 90's do the bonus tracks then make the release a "compliation" with a much higher guarantee or is this no longer the case or on a case by case basis with each label ?

Yeah, I'd be interested in knowing that as well. My "data" is from long ago. Plus, Wounded Bird just put out a 2CD comp of Debbie Gibson singles (A and B sides) so it makes me think the rules have changed. I was emailing back and forth with the guy from Wounded Bird a couple months ago about another 2CD compilation idea for another dance act on Atlantic from the '80s. Hopefully he can make it happen; he liked the idea.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:28 am

Yes, the rules have changed, and I think it's largely in part due to less physical product being sold. Warners no longer views bonus tracks as a compilation, it just adds to the cost of the release. Their minimum is 3000 units over 3 years, which seems excessive. But he said there's flexibility if the 3 years ends and you haven't reached that number... as long as you have other Warner titles requested. If not then you will have to buy out the contract. Warners said they are very artist-friendly, as it was put to me, and they pay their artists more and allow them more creative control. He said if creating a brand new compilation, the artist will definitely be involved for various approvals where other labels don't require that unless it's in their contract.

Universal have apparently changed as well. Their project form states there's a 1500 unit minimum for a straight reissue but a 2500 minimum when adding bonus tracks. When I asked if that was still accurate, since it was dated 2012, I was told it has now changed to 1000 straight, 1500 w/bonus. I did follow up with Universal soon after I posted my last message. He responded promptly that he did in fact receive my two requests last month, and that he assumes the delay with info on my first request is likely due to legal having higher priority things in the queue. So it's still confirmed that these reissues are viewed very lowly on their list, even if you want to do a number of them. Patience........................................
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby swerve » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:45 am

Great news. :)
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Bellenger1981 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:02 pm

Again, thank you for the update! This is very exciting for me because it's always great seeing someone with so much passion for doing things correctly in charge of these reissues.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Barmy » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:38 pm

If you are just reissuing stuff that's been released on OOP CD, don't bother. Most CD NW fans bought that stuff when it came out, and you are not going to recruit many re-buyers. Repeat: CD is a dead format.

The extras on most re-released CDs are utter crap. Single edits and 12" monstrosities are equally superfluous. Don't get me started on remixes, demos and live cuts.

And the Secession obsession just makes me laugh. I remember buying that CD on a lark when it came out and have listened to it twice at most. Yeah it's rare; no it's not that great.

Edit: am SO glad Wounded Bird has finally gotten around to Debbie Gibson. This is a label that in the rather distant past has done a lot of important reissues. But they've finally reached the summit of reissuehood.

Regards.
Last edited by Barmy on Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Aevion93 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:53 pm

Geez Barmy, you really do like raining on parades don't you?

CDs may be a relatively dead format for new music, but for reissues it's anything but dead. Sure, vinyl is pretty popular, but I'm sure many others here would agree they'd rather have a reissue on CD rather than a bunch of files.

I am curious though, after seeing a fair few of your posts regarding what you don't like about reissues I feel compelled to ask this.... What DO you like in a reissue? Or do you resent the practice of reissues altogether (which of course would make your presence in this section of the forums quite redundant).

Just curious....
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Barmy » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:35 am

I am rather old but even so people my age literally make fun of my CD collection and my continued buying of CDs.

Regarding reissues, I buy a lot of pressed CDs that are from the 70s/80s (usually from obscure UK or European labels; sometimes Russia or Japan) but new to CD. Some of these may be mastered from vinyl. I don't care. In my opinion on a good stereo system vinyl mastered CDs sound fine

There are a handful of labels from which I buy literally everything they issue, but again that is largely because what they issue is largely new to CD.

Occasionally I will buy those very cheap 5-CD boxes ($10 or so) from artists that I kind of like but don't have much exposure to. There are a ton of those out there now.

I like vintage disco, which is being reissued constantly in many interesting formulations.

That adds up to a LOT to pile on to my existing collection.

A good example of what I hate is The Smiths "Queen is Dead" 3CD/DVD reissue. Love the album. Haven't listened to it in many years. Do I need demos? Absolutely not. The live cuts? Maybe, cuz even after the first LP The Smiths never got proper studio production. The DVD? NO. Frankly the reissue will just inspire me to give my ancient QID disc another spin.

What really set me off in this thread was more Altered Images. I don't care about the alleged poor quality of prior reissues, but I am simply done with this band. The CDs I have are adequate for the remainder of my life.

I just think the whole reissue biz has gotten out of hand. The focus is on expanding, to a ridiculous extreme, bands we all know, and not on introducing bands to CD. But that's what the marketplace demands now. Since everyone can get everything free, you need to do a 9 CD Blancmange reissue to even get attention.

In any event, I don't see any of this, aside from DELUXE reissues, making any economic impact on the labels that issue them. They must be doing it for love not money.

Vinyl is a different story. Happy to see anything reissued in vinyl, and sound quality is far superior to CD, but the expense and hassle exceed my patience. Even though many of them have proven to be good investments.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Aevion93 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:39 am

I do agree with some of your points there. Some reissues do seem pointless lately, especially in specific cases where the album has been reissued many times. Personally, I like to purchase reissues that to me, are complete and contain just about everything related to that release. The Deacon Blue ones on Edsel are a good example of this, and while acknowledging their well-known mistakes in the past, I really do appreciate that label's aim to basically include everything if possible. That, to me, is how it should be done. Fill it up with everything possible, master it well, reissue it and never do it again. Of course, they always do it again....

I can see why you wouldn't like single edits. I guess my liking of them probably comes from both the fact that in a lot of cases the edits were what I heard on the radio and how I knew the songs best, as well as the fact that I used to (and still sometimes do) make my own edits if there were sections I didn't like or if I felt it dragged on too long. I like having the album versions there at home to immerse myself in, and a nice concise edit for the commute. Extended mixes, on the other hand, generally aren't of interest to me and much of the time I don't have the attention span for these, but it feels more complete to have them there. I'm not very used to these as I didn't grow up in the age where these were popular.

One thing I do hate about reissues is things such as new material/remixes and material unrelated to that reissue being added. New remixes are an absolute no-no for me, but I am okay with reissues containing a new mix of the album, such as Pearl Jam's 2009 reissue of Ten. And material from another time just sets my OCD on edge. Things like this should be saved for other reissues or put out on its own.

I too seem to be derided in regards to my CD collection (it's not particularly huge but large enough for people to notice), with most of my family wondering why I even bother as digital is apparently so much better and easier. My defense is that a bunch of tracks on Spotify or on iTunes could never do for me what picking up a physical CD (especially a well-packaged one) does. The artwork, the booklet, the discs, and in many situations, the case. I do have a Spotify account and I do listen to a lot of music on there, but if I love it, I'll buy it. And I'd rather spend that little extra (or even in some cases, spend less) and grab it on CD. Not many of my generation really buy CD's, so I guess that's odd to the people in my life. Haven't really got into vinyl, and as I listen to music solely on headphones, this doesn't really work for me. I can understand the benefits of it though.

On another note, I do admire Rubellan's efforts to put these albums out on CD. While I don't know many of these artists, it is pleasing to see someone so dedicated to putting these things out for us all to enjoy. I really hope you can get licensing rights for the the Real Life ones, as I will definitely line up for anything related to them!
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:40 am

Seriously Barmy, just save your breath. I'm well aware you are going to bitch about ANY of the releases I do for one reason or another. Your support is not requested or needed, so feel free to avoid my reissues and complain about them all you want. It's like I've said before, if you want specific releases, feel free to track down some label contacts and be prepared to spend anywhere from $5000-$10,000 for one reissue of an album, then you can do everything YOUR way. Your logic of what people want to buy is flawed. I'm always happy to re-purchase a reissue of a CD I already own if the mastering is better and there's bonus material. And I will find out if at least 1000 people worldwide feel the same next year. Like I said, if it fails then at least I took the chance. But Wounded Bird is still going 20 years later and with over 1000 releases to their credit. Granted, much of what they do over the past few years has little interest to me and I am surprised by some of the titles they choose to release thinking "what they hell is that and who's asking for it??" But their stock continues to sell out because not only do music fans STILL buy CD's, collector's do just to add them to their collection. And CD is far from dead, and when you look at ridiculous resurgences like cassettes, the CD will have another heyday, and when that comes and my CD's are out of print, they will be sought after collector's items, just like a lot of things that were plentiful in the past. Bitch and moan all you want, you will not stop my mission or choice of titles. Put that miserable energy to work on making your own official label and then you can be happy. My pursuit has come from being disappointed by the UK labels and their botched masterings and missed opportunities. And from working with labels and being taken advantage of, for granted, or just disrespected. But rather than complain endlessly about it, I'm just going to do it all myself.

Regarding the Real Life reissue, I contacted Curb Records by three different methods and they couldn't provide me with even a courtesy response. They clearly have no interest in making money off of the back catalog of an artist they have no intention of doing anything with. The masters and multi's are languishing in Nashville and it seems they will continue to collect dust. Now that is unfortunate. Maybe once I have some releases to my name then perhaps some if these indie's with a smirk when they read my messages will start to take me seriously.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby telekon3 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:50 am

I saw a lame pigeon today and named it "Barmy".
It does nothing and shits on everything.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sY1rIeFf3Q

Search Results
Dictionary
barm·y


extremely foolish.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby omar » Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:35 am

Rubellan wrote:Yes, the rules have changed, and I think it's largely in part due to less physical product being sold. Warners no longer views bonus tracks as a compilation, it just adds to the cost of the release. Their minimum is 3000 units over 3 years, which seems excessive. But he said there's flexibility if the 3 years ends and you haven't reached that number... as long as you have other Warner titles requested. If not then you will have to buy out the contract. Warners said they are very artist-friendly, as it was put to me, and they pay their artists more and allow them more creative control. He said if creating a brand new compilation, the artist will definitely be involved for various approvals where other labels don't require that unless it's in their contract.

Universal have apparently changed as well. Their project form states there's a 1500 unit minimum for a straight reissue but a 2500 minimum when adding bonus tracks. When I asked if that was still accurate, since it was dated 2012, I was told it has now changed to 1000 straight, 1500 w/bonus. I did follow up with Universal soon after I posted my last message. He responded promptly that he did in fact receive my two requests last month, and that he assumes the delay with info on my first request is likely due to legal having higher priority things in the queue. So it's still confirmed that these reissues are viewed very lowly on their list, even if you want to do a number of them. Patience........................................


Scott, i for one actively look forward to your reissues , also your great vinyl transfers on the youtube channel. I think your work is painstakingly hard (don't think many others out there would be able to achieve what you've done) especially the rare stuff. Hope the Real Life project comes through soon and we get to see some good stuff coming.
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby swerve » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:51 pm

Hello again Scott,

I forgot to ask ( although in 2017 it may not be all that relevant ) but will are your releases be set up to officially be available in all territories of the world?

I ask because when I was involved in the first half of the 90's the agreement the label had then was for availability in Canada only.

It would have been more expensive to negotiate an agreement to include much larger markets such as the US.

I think they worked out a way to circumvent that with product making it's way down to the US and beyond ( perhaps they had arranged for distribution through other channels not contained in the original agreement ).

With the online world perhaps negotiating territories doesn't even factor in any more.

The key of course to sell 1000 or more worldwide is getting the word out that the release exists. If you have excellent presence online I don't think you'll have a problem but I'm always amazed to find out something came out months or even years after the fact. Had I known I would have bought it upon it's release. What are you hoping will be your strategy in getting the word out?
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Re: The pursuit of starting a reissue label

Postby Rubellan » Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:29 pm

They are negotiated as US only releases, but my expectation is that most people will buy them as imports, as many of us often do on Amazon UK. Some labels tell you flat out that it's US market only, no other options. If I wanted to go worldwide with the one label that doesn't, that would slow things down even more as they would have to check with international offices to find out of any conflicts or additional negotiations. Cherry Red and Edsel make their releases for their market only, which are then purchased as imports on this side.
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