CD Prices

Discussion in ' User Reviews' started by John Brooks, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I initially made these comments under the "Origins" thread but decided to edit that reply and start this thread.

    BAYV's Gaia Symphony is another recent CD release that used previously recorded material (about half the CD in fact).

    In my opinion, it's different when openly buying a compilation CD or, as in the case of Origins, two or three tracks, identified as such. However, I was disappointed in that aspect of Gaia, if for no other reason than I had already paid for half the content on two previous CD's. That made Gaia pretty expensive to me (and many others who also had purchased the two earlier CD's) but perhaps not so bad for the rest.

    Also on the topic of value, what do tMPer's think of a recent solo CD release from Alan Morrison which has less than 45 mins. of music at full price? I'm talking strictly on the amount of content here, not how good the performance might be. I personally think this is a pretty pricey item, one that I will probably not get for that reason alone.
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    What annoys me about many of the band CDs being released is that many bands tend to duplicate pieces. Nothing worse than having a collection mainly of the same works, unless you want to compare performances. Because of the limited market as well, the prices tend to stay high compared to the popular music market.
  3. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Just to play Devil's Advocate for a moment, put that into context versus a pop music CD. A large number of CD albums contain 40-45 minutes of material (some even less!), yet the list price of those new releases is the same as those which last for an hour - so there's no real difference there.

    When you take into account Brassneck's point about limited market, the cost balance is quite delicate depending upon how many CDs you think you're going to sell. Discounting them on the basis of length isn't really viable if you're intending to actually make any profit on them at all (FWIW it's actually the licence fees that make up the bulk of the costs the more units you produce - certainly in the UK).

    That said, there are certainly enough cornet solos around to make up the 15 minutes ;) (although they've probably all been recorded before and you've got them on other CDs :biggrin:).
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I'm not too sure about band CD sales figures throughout mainland Europe, but the bands there are more daring in their selection of new works and arrangements compared to bands in the UK. It is because they have a broader taste or are they more enthusiastic in their approach?? (.. just as bands here in the mid-'70s to early '80s were??).
  5. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    I guess it's all saleability question again, particularly for lesser known bands. Familiar works = recognisable = potential sale.

    My philosophy as to why I got into this recording thing in the first place is kind of related to this. I'd like to encourage Bands who are not in the mainstream (for want of a better phrase) to record. Flexibility in the output medium is key here - for instance I'm quite happy accommodating small runs (with the caveat that they're CDR replicated), people can sell them for what they like, perhaps get Davind at Midland CD to sell them for them (provided, with the greatest of respect, they reach the required stand [but bear in mind that they'll only sell replicated CDs]). The bottom line from this statement is that CD manufacturing is not a major cost.

    Promotion of CDs of new material is another key factor. I'd like nothing better than to record a CD full of new commissions from XYZ composers. Again, unless you're lucky enough to be in one of, say, five Bands in this Country, that CD could end up being largely sidelined unloess you can promote it properly - and that can be expensive.

    In the 70s and 80s people were, possible more experimental in their approaches. Certainly some of the Besses records with Ifor James were more unusual than others (Capriccio Brilliante would be a good example with John McCabe playing piano on it), but I think the market was different back then (although I was only 2 when it was recorded! It's still the only record 've got with my Dad playing a solo on it though, so it still regularly comes out to play).

    It's a tough question - you got to balance your reasons for recording agaist profit, and in the Banding world the latter is dwindling a bit...but what me mustn't do as a movement is stop recording!
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I would echo what has been said about cd running times, and in particular Alan Morrison's latest: for a cd to run for such a short duration, it would have to be very special, and probably to include unique material, for me to consider buying it at full price, and had I been asked to do the review on 4br I would have at least passed comment on it.

    Regarding the "Gaia Symphony", it is a little surprising that they chose to include previously recorded music - I understand it was only the "Men of Stone" movement - but was still happy to buy it, and very pleased with the end result.

    In the light of what has been said about the actual cost of producing cds, it does concern me sometimes that reissues of material originally on tape or lp are generally sold at the same price as new recordings. It is not even as if much effort is always put into the presentation and packaging.
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Perhaps just to qualify my earlier statement, the production of the CDs is (relatively) cheap - for example current market prices are £400+vat for 500 pressed (not burnt) CDs. The spec is for 4 sided booklets ([4+1], so full colour outside, B&W inside), traycards ([4+0] - so colour on the back, not printed on the other side), 2 colour onbody CD printing in a standard jewel case. Shrink wrap and barcodes are available at a slight surcharge. Quantity increases provide better value for money - so 1000 units is, for instance, £600+vat for the same spec.

    MCPS will have to be paid up front on everything - depending on the distribution network (if there is one) that's currently around £325 for 500 units (and is proportional to the number of units you produce).

    Peter's mentioned about the packaging. If you employ a graphic artist to design your covers, you're looking at around £55+vat per hour as a starting point (and this charge would be incurred from the CD pressing plant if you supply your artwork in any form other than a press pdf). so tis can be expensive, if you go for anything fancy.

    The biggest thing about reissues, though, is the state of the Masters. If the original material was supplied on cassette or vinyl it's pretty much unavoidable that it will have to be remastered for CD. Hourly rates for mastering engineers start at around £35 and can rise steeply. If the master tape is unavailable, then the material will have to come from a copy of the cassette or vinyl record....access to the appropriate tools can be very expensive (e.g. you may have to bake the tape, use Cedar Audio tools - the Cedar Bureau's great I'm lead to believe, but relatively expensive) get the idea.

    Reissues of previous CDs can incur additional charges as well. Depending on who owns the copyright in the sound recordings, you may required to pay them a fee - which may be more significant than you first realised. In fact, this may also occur with reissues from tape and vinyl as well.

    Bottom line is reissue of old material can be more expensive that rerecording (but then the magic of those old recordings is lost).
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2005
  8. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    In fact, Wildfire was also previously recorded, on the CD of the same name.

    But it would have been rather difficult to record the symphony without including the previously recorded music, wouldn't it? And one can hardly accuse Cory/BAYV of cynical behaviour. They didn't know when they recorded those pieces that the composer would incorporate them into a larger work at a later stage. In fact, from what I read, the composer himself didn't envisage it until relatively recently.

    Gaia Symphony is, effectively, a new, single work, and on that basis I had no reservations about buying it.

    I fear this discussion may light up again soon when Grimethorpe's next CD in the History of Brass Band Music - the Modern Era - is released. If memory serves, it has five pieces, all of which have been recorded before and which are all still commercially available. I have the greatest respect for Grimethorpe and Howarth, but Grimey's library must be heaving with the manuscripts of rare, little-heard pieces commissioned by Howarth in the great days of their collaboration. That's the sort of stuff I want to hear!
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Add to that the BBC recordings of the new commissions for the Festival Of Brass series on Radio 3. They managed to use Fairey's recording of 'Prague' for a CD, so why can't they compile others?
  10. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    They could, quite easily, although the recordings will vary depending on where they were recorded.

    The problem is, again, perceived market value.

    If you're really interested in this kind of thing, then you might consider getting hold of Paul Hindmarsh and seeing if he could swing anything.
  11. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I could, but he probably has thought about it already. I don't think he would like to see his 'baby' cast away to just memories for a few who were lucky to be able to listen to the programmes in the early afternoon hours when they were broadcast!
  12. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Hmm, Niche market, eh? Where's the headbang smilie when I need one ;)

    I'm speaking to him fairly soon about a future project, maybe I'll mention it anyway...
  13. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Heheheh! You talk about 'niche' market? Brass band CD sales have fallen for bandsmen during the last 20 years and I used to be a regular buyer when the material recorded served some interest to myself. Plenty bandsmen look at selections on tradestands but not many actually buy them these days! This is why I believe we are seeing more highlights of contests being offered. The company covering the event can recoup costs by selling individual recordings to bands (on the day) as well as marketing the event. If only they would again produce a CD covering the best performance in each section too (as they did for the UK Nationals in 1998 . I believe that would be a bigger selling point than mainly concert highlights.
  14. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Well, absolutely. Although I suspect two things come into play - copyright, and the apathy of most of the BBC (Paul Hindmarsh honourably excepted) towards brass music in general, and brass bands in particular.

    I also recall that at the RNCM festival in 2004, Grimethorpe were unable to play a programmed short work by Benedict Mason because they had mislaid the score and parts. Deeply worrying, and another good reason to get this sort of music down on a CD.
  15. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    The copyright in the sound recording is owned by the BBC - so if they grant permission for it's use, then it's MCPS permission and if the writers aren't registered, their written permission to release the recording.
  16. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Don't you think it makes some sense to try and put these commissions on CD? First of all, it shows that the banding movement has maintained it's interest in the composers and secondly that it would also make banders more aware of other ideas for repertoire? (Hell Noise by David Saw is a good start).
  17. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    From a personal perspective (rather than having my 'company' hat on), I think it's a great idea. Although I do live with one foot in nostaligia, I enjoy new and challenging repertoire just as much so long as it isn't completely impenetrable :D

    Sliding back sideways into my moniker, though, I still think you'd have a hard time getting it onto a major label's agenda just due to what may be a low (innacurately) predicted sales forecast.

    Limited runs of this material would get it into the public domain, but wouldn't really make anyone any money. Normally this kind of repertoire demands the attention of the 'top' Bands - which don't come cheap....

    And round and round the circle of financial viablility we go....
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Hmmmmm, :frown: , doesn't paint a pretty picture then does it? Publishers of brass arrangements are quite happy to hire a band to promote their latest collections which denies choice or direction for the bands or movement involved and that does not necessarily mean quality either. Looks like the only real winner is the producer of the CDs as it seems that it is increasingly more difficult to maintain profitability for bands if they struggle to shift the copies they arranged!
  19. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    No, the outlook isn't maybe as good as it could be - but everyone here is capable of having a hand in changing it.

    I'd like to think that there is a market force out there that could get what it wants - but it has to make it's voice heard.
  20. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    And just to clarify, I'd be quite happy to record these things, so long as someone out there wants them ;)

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