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Re: [ARSCLIST] CD versus Download was "All hail the analogue revolution..."

On Fri, 29 Sep 2006, Bob Olhsson wrote:

Speaking of Naxos...

> True however my understanding of how they are managing to accomplish this is
somewhat akin to vanity publishing.

True, but unlike true vanity publishing, Naxos has standards and is only
looking for repertoire that interests them. While someone might go to a
concert to hear their local orchestra play a Beethoven Symphony, I would
be hard pressed to think that anyone other than a fan of their local
symphony, or one who collects all of the recordings of a specific work,
would be interested in standard repertoire played by that local orchestra.

And the quality of playing on Naxos releases is generally quite high.

> The orchestra has to finance the entire recording cost, Naxos receives all
rights for any licensing purpose and nobody gets paid any royalties ever. I
understand Naxos sometimes helps locate foundation support for a particular
recording however that's hardly the level of investment typical of a traditional

The last time I inquired, the recording costs for the major orchestras in
the US runs about $1,000 for a minute of usable material...a seventy
minute CD can cost you about $70,000 for the use of the orchestra.
Working by the old business models mean, if you have to pay union rates, you will
lose money on just about any recording.

But indeed, those old days are almost completely gone. I am reminded of
conversations I had with cellist Paul Olefsky. He was, for a time, first
chair cello under Ormandy. He told me that the recording fees paid for his
second cello. Gone are those days.

As many know, in the old days, the classical recordings were financed by
the sales of the popular music releases done by the same company. Also, at
that time, a recording of standard repertoire done by the Philadelphia
Orchestra, didn't have that much competition on the record shelves.

> A bit of publicity is the only compensation the orchestra and conductor receive and
that only if the recording happens to get a good review. While publicity may appeal
to amateur musicians, it's hardly a healthy stimulus to professional classical music.

Certainly the new economic model isn't the same sort of stimulus, but I
believe there are other perspectives to consider. For an orchestra it can
provide a great sense of pride. I also have found that the recording process can help
musicians improve their playing. Most of my recording work has been
limited to chamber ensembles. When you bring them into the control room
for some critical listening to their work...well, on more than one
occasion I have seen an abrupt end to the first session...they will come
back more fully prepared for the next session.

And when they record previously unrecorded repertoire, they can be making
a contribution to music history...assuming it something substantive.

I also believe it can increase the visability of the town in which the
orchestra resides...certainly not as much as a professional sports team
can do, but...it sends a different message. I am reminded that when one
thinks of Texas...there are things like the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas and
Houston Symphonies, the Houston Grand Opera and let's not forget that old
TV show "Dallas." On the other hand we should note that Texas has the
highest number (17) of the 100 poorest counties in the US,
the second highest income gap between the richest and poorest family
incomes and I believe is the state with the seventh lowest per capita
income in the US. It seems interesting to me how one's perceptions can be
based upon the most visable information.


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