This is going to tougher than I thought. I mean the acquisition of original masters of major artists for the purpose of remastering…or even remixing…them as “the best available” version of a particular album. It turns out that we don’t really matter in the marketplace of selling commercial music. Audiophiles occupy a very small niche in the overall music world. We don’t really count.
That’s what I heard today. Through a close friend (and engineer and producer), I made contact with the manager of a very big current artist about the possibility of revisiting a particular recent hit recording in “audiophile” and/or surround mode. I tried to explain in an introductory email what I am hoping to do. The pitch was pretty simple:
“I would like to explore the possibility of revisiting one or more of ArtistX’s hits with an audiophile sensibility and surround presentation (even in headphones!). I have a first class studio with a 5.1 surround mixing system. I’ve been mixing surround records for decades and was a mastering engineer for 13 years…if you would allow me to show you just what can be accomplished with a focus on high fidelity, I think it could be a tremendous opportunity for ArtistX and the world of high-resolution music.”
The initial reaction wasn’t so great:
“Her label isn’t going to give 2 BLEEPs about this.”
But the manager was intrigued and we arranged to talk on the phone. I must say I was impressed that this particular manager had time for me and was genuinely interested in the whole idea. I explained what Neil Young had just done and that there are a lot of music enthusiasts that would love to hear his artist. He was completely unaware of the whole high-resolution audio thing and absolutely convinced that the label wasn’t going to pay any attention to the opportunity I promised him was open to his artist.
So I dangled a large number…$250,000…that I estimated could be achieved through the usual “high-resolution audio” sites and that there would be a lot of press attention paid to a big artist that decided to issue a version of an album tailored to the “audiophile” segment of the music market.
His reaction? He scoffed at a quarter of a million dollars in potential revenue from our niche market. What I thought would be a huge win for all concerned didn’t even register with this guy. “The record label’s legal department is over worked and understaffed. It’s takes a year for them to simply change an address in their system. They aren’t going to pay any attention to this.”
This is very troubling news. Here I am thinking that a major artist and a major label might be interested in the audiophile corner of the market…but no, they’re not. They’re shooting for the huge wins, huge hits and mega dollars. Why should they bother with little efforts like mine…or even major efforts like Ponomusic? The amount of bandwidth that it takes their legal team to spend on a one off license deal isn’t interesting. Not worth the time it would take to write it up.
So we have that to deal with.