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Re: [ARSCLIST] Virgin Sacrifice

As Karl said in his earlier email, few libraries or archives are
interested in audio recording collections.  I think this is very
short-sighted, especially given the tiny fraction of music that has been
re-issued on cd.  I am tempted to type "WAS re-issued", rather than "has
been", since the age of the cd is rapidly ending anyway.  

Many collectors, especially of 78's, are getting older and are facing
the idea of what will become of their collections.  I fear that the
value of much of this music won't be realized until many years from now,
at which point some will look back and ask "Why didn't anybody save this
stuff?''  Bob George with the ARC is trying, but it seems like there
should be many more places trying to build a collection of 20th century
commercial recordings.  Meanwhile, somewhere a 78 collector kicks the
bucket, and his heirs cart off some records to the landfill.

An institution with some vision could amass an impressive collection
right now, on the cheap.  Consider the Harry Ransom Center here in
Austin as an example of the kind of vision I'm talking about.  When
Ransom was building the HRC collection, manuscripts of 20th century
authors were not highly prized.  Rather than trying to compete with
other institutions for older and more traditionally valued material, the
HRC concentrated in this area.  They were able to gather a collection
that is now considered quite impressive.  This took vision.  (Of course,
Ransom had access to a great deal of oil money to use for acquisitions,
and was able to pick up a few other small items - like a Gutenberg bible
- along the way.)  Now, years later, scholars from all over the world
visit the HRC to access their manuscript collections of 20th century
authors.  I think there is a similar opportunity now as far as
recordings are concerned.  Many collectors would be glad to donate their
collections, if only there was a facility who had the resources to
accept them, or the vision to realize that this stuff might be seen as
valuable in the future.  


-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gary Powell
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:45 AM
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Virgin Sacrifice

Tom makes a really solid point about the issue of copyright. 
Particularly with old labels having sub-labels in them. For instance, I
was sifting through my 45s yesterday and found a Geater Davis single on
the House of Orange label. Just for simple curiosity, I looked up who
owned the House of Orange label and found nothing. Basically, the only
thing I can assume is that it is somehow related to the labels that
originated the Philadelphia International label because it has a cover
of a Jerry Butler song.

But, this sort of leads into a different point I was hoping to make. 
While there is a lot of concern over space and having a ton of "stuff," 
I think it's also important to note that the majority of music that was
placed on vinyl, was never put on CD. I think there are some estimates
of 50-60%, which means that, while downloads are more convenient and
space-friendly, completely dropping all these records all together means
we're shedding off some aspect of history. Whether it's valuable or not,
well, that's a different matter that's determined by collectors and
music aficionados. Which, I think Jack, pointed out with his 78

One route some groups have made is basically making very secure Bit
Torrent systems, then uploading their albums to it for a small group of
people to join in. To join in, people must submit stuff on a regular
basis or they're kicked out. That way obscure stuff can still exist
without it being completely leeched or available by someone with a
really slow collection. But, then again, that's a little clandestine. ;)

Gary Powell

Tom Fine wrote:
> Hi Jack:
> Your situation is somewhat unique, perhaps so unique that there is not

> even a niche market for it in the modern download world. However, you 
> raise a good point -- all the material that is currently out of print,

> sometimes called "long-tail content." I've argued numerous times on 
> this list and in other forums that all of it should eventually be 
> available as downloads. There is, however, some cost involved with 
> digitizing old material and some masters are forever lost. The biggest

> block, though, to getting the more obscure stuff online is copyright 
> laws. Stuff stays copyright in the US far too long, especially if it's

> out of print. I've argued that there should be a requirement for 
> copyrights to last beyond what the rest of the world finds reasonable,

> that the material should have to be in print in a common consumer 
> format or the copyright expires. If you didn't have the copyright 
> laws, much much more variety of material would be online for legal 
> download, put there by fans and collectors or a guy willing to sell 
> his amateur transfers for a quarter or a dime a song. It would be 
> great for consumers because it would probably drive download prices 
> down, as well as offering a "longer tail" of obscure sub-genre stuff 
> than is now legally available.
> Your point illustrates the main weakness of the current music business

> model, and it was also touched on by Mike Biel about record stores in 
> the years before they all collapsed -- a lack of variety is widely 
> toxic to the business. It causes a general dissatisfaction among the 
> more mainstream consumers ("who cares, there's nothing new or 
> interesting there, just the same old stuff") and stymies those who 
> want to "go deep in the stacks" and really learn about a genre or 
> artist. A sure way for a stores buyer traffic to dry up.
> Finally, my point wasn't about unique collections like what yours 
> obviously was (since you were able to sell it). Hence my sentence 
> about Black Patty and Shaded Dog disks and McIntosh equipment. My 
> point was about what most of us have for collections, myself included.
> Roomfuls of heavy and mostly worthless stuff, shelves of common 
> records and CD's, boxes of common and/or not-good-condition 78's, with

> a subset of a small amount of the volume that's truly valuable. As 
> time goes on, many of us will find that even this subset won't raise 
> enough dough for our survivors to dispose of the mass of dumpster 
> fodder. And I think these dreams of libraries, universities and 
> archives suddenly springing up to collect and preserve all this are 
> pipe dreams, given likely economic conditions and general cultural 
> disinterest in anything "old" going forward.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Jack Palmer" 
> <vdalhart@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 11:59 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Virgin Sacrifice
>> Tom,
>>    I certainly qualify as an old man.  I'm even older than Mike!  But

>> even if I was willing to download the music only I could not obtain 
>> the artist and the music I want.  It is only available from old 78s.
>> Most of it has never been released on CD or even LP.  So where does 
>> that leave me? Either look for the old records or forget the music I 
>> want to hear?  So my choice is looking for the records.  And I enjoy 
>> it.  I have met so many interesting people and traveled across the 
>> entire US looking for the music.  I can't travel anymore due to 
>> health problems but I still check out several mail order lists and on

>> line listings.  I feel I am doubly blessed.  I get to hear the music 
>> and I also have the original artifact that the music was issued on.
>> You have to be a record collector (of any age) to know what it is 
>> like.   Jack
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Fine" 
>> <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 6:41 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Virgin Sacrifice
>>> Hi Mike:
>>> No offense, but your attitude about downloads shows your age. There 
>>> are definitely a few "kids" who want a houseful of dusty objects, 
>>> but I respect just as much the person who is collecting the MUSIC, 
>>> not the THING, in which case an iPod full of downloads is more MUSIC

>>> in a more convenient place than ever existed before. Now if only 
>>> that music were in full CD quality or better instead of 
>>> lossy-compressed ...
>>> Since we can't take either one with us, it might be more merciful on

>>> those we leave behind to leave a single computer drive and iPod vs.
>>> a house of moldy things to be disposed of. On the other hand, if 
>>> it's a house full of minty Black Pattys, Shaded Dogs and McIntosh 
>>> amplifiers, perhaps the survivors will forgive the clutter as the 
>>> cash rolls in from selling it! But this isn't usually the case.  I 
>>> think there are guys on this list who appraise giant piles of 
>>> shellac and vinyl all the time and will report how worthless many 
>>> acres of this stuff is, so mainly it's a burden on those left behind

>>> unless they share the love of the stuff or own a carting business.
>>> As for used bookstores, except for my strange inclination to collect

>>> first edition hardcovers of certain mainstream books about politics 
>>> and journalism, I've had much better luck and saved tons of money 
>>> using AbeBooks. So once again, the Internet wins. Aside from books 
>>> about music and the record business, I've stopped buying altogether 
>>> due to lack of space. Library trumps wallet nowadays.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
>>> To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>>> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 1:30 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Virgin Sacrifice
>>> From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>>>> Maybe it's an age thing, but I can't see any reason for physical 
>>>> stores for music since Amazon took off. I haven't bought a book or 
>>>> CD from a physical store in probably a decade now.
>>> To a certain extent that is similar to me, especially when I am home

>>> in Kentucky, far, far away from any record stores with just a small 
>>> non-discount bookstore in town.  Constantly when something is 
>>> discussed in these forums or I otherwise hear about something 
>>> available, I check on Amazon and a couple of other places and ZIP, I

>>> click and buy.  The problem is not being able to combine shipping in

>>> the marketplace area, which raises the price considerably when 
>>> buying several things that the same vendor offers.
>>> But that being said, when visiting Leah in NYC we always try to drop

>>> into Acadamy Records, Book-Off, Strand Books, and a neat remainder 
>>> book place we found in the Village, and we usually leave these 
>>> places with too many things to carry, so I usually drive there.  
>>> Then there are the special events like the semi- and annual sales at

>>> places like the ARChive of Contemporary Music that Leah and I hit 
>>> this afternoon.  We crawled out with almost 100 one dollar LPs, 
>>> almost 50 two dollar LaserDiscs, and some 50 cent 78s including two 
>>> Chaillapin Opera Discs, Jazz at the Philharmonic Vol 4 on Disc album

>>> 504, Artie Shaw plays Cole Porter on Musicraft album S2, King Cole 
>>> Trio Capitol album B8 with an extra disc, and Tetrazzini on the 
>>> vinyl Heritage Series 15-0001, and some other stuff including two 
>>> Hoffnung books.  (The sale continues thru Sunday, so if you're in 
>>> the NYC area you might want to check it out http://www.arcmusic.org

>>> )  And then there's the Jazz Record Bash on Fri and Sat, and 
>>> everybody will be there.  And then there's the Antique Phonograph 
>>> and Record shop in South Jersey we went to last Saturday while in 
>>> the Phila area and got a couple dozen 78s there.
>>> There is nothing like being able to handle and inspect the records, 
>>> including the ones you don't buy, which can't be done on the 
>>> internet nor in mail auctions.  While 78 collectors have been using 
>>> mail auctions since the 1930s, most of these collectors have also 
>>> gone thru tens of thousands of records in stores, so they get to 
>>> know what the details are in the actual records.  I know I have 
>>> looked at more than a million records over the years. This is an 
>>> important learning experience for collectors.  When the rock 
>>> collectors started having access to mail auctions in the late 70s in

>>> Goldmine and other magazines like it, I noticed that the majority of

>>> rock collectors had never really gone thru piles of thousands of 
>>> records, and usually knew nothing about the records themselves.  
>>> Reading the articles in these rock collector magazines, looking at 
>>> what they mistakenly called "discographies", and the auction lists 
>>> themselves, showed how ignorant these rock collectors were, even the

>>> "experts".  All too often they had never looked at any records that 
>>> were not already in their collection.  They didn't know labels, 
>>> pressing plant styles, matrix numbers, etc.  Obvious conterfeits 
>>> were snapped up like the real things by them if they ventured out to

>>> a record show.
>>>> And downloads trump even that because not only are they convenient,

>>>> they are near-instant gratification.  Now if only full 44.1/16-bit 
>>>> downloads would go down to 99 cents or less per song and be 
>>>> commonplace, we'd finally be at a reasonable "new paradigm."
>>> So if these "collectors" now stick to just downloading things, that 
>>> might leave the real artifacts for us real collectors. I'm not 
>>> interested in paying for vapor, which is all a download is.  We did 
>>> use some free streams as source for some of the music in Leah's 
>>> documentary because most of the music was added while I was in New 
>>> York and my records were in Kentucky.  I do buy plenty of CD 
>>> reissues of 78s, so I am not a purist who insists on having the 78 
>>> even if it is impossibly rare.  But if the reissue is on a CD or a 
>>> download, I will go for the CD.  You are not a record collector if 
>>> you go for the download.  (In Leah's documentary, Kurt Nauck 
>>> discusses the difference between music lovers who just want to 
>>> listen to the music, and record collectors who want the record and 
>>> also might listen to the record.)
>>> Mike Biel   mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

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