New vs. Old Favorites on Recordings

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by DocFox, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    I know I am in a "unique" position requiring many CDs for the radio station. But there are some pieces I have 6 or 7 copies of total.

    I know when selling a CD, buyers want to hear some favorites. Some what to hear something new. But some pieces are recorded over and over. Is that bad? (I have, for example, at least 7 recordings of "Hymn of the Highlands" by Philip Sparke - that is bad for me because one or two is enough).

    But new pieces are risky. Unless it is very good, people want to listen to a CD to enjoy and perhaps relax to ... and new cuts must be good to fill that criteria. This is the reason I think many bands record movie/TV themes (which makes me wonder why no Doctor Who themes). New movies and themes are always coming out.

    Paul Lovatt-Cooper is the new Philip Sparke according to an article on 4Bars Rest. I am not so sure that high of praise has been earned yet (or maybe ever). But Lovatt-Cooper is providing good, fresh music.

    Bottom line. What are your thoughts? How many traditional pieces should be on one CD?

  2. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I would venture to say that the majority of bands make recordings to sell primarily to their own audiences at the concerts that they give. That being the case, potential purchasers are likely to be looking for a similar programme to that which they have heard being performed, so it is natural to expect a fairly popular programme. The more adventurous bands, however, will still try to include something a little different, possibly something unique to their band, or of particular local interest.

    There will also be those bands who are looking for a wider audience, and who may be targetting a particular, more specialist market, hence the single composer issues, test piece collections etc.
  3. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Well, consumers the CD is marketed to does make a difference. If your audience is other brass bands, then test pieces might be appropriate. The European bands have been criticized for playing mostly pop pieces, yet Black Dyke has a whole album of Beatles songs.

    Test pieces, from my experience (or long, new pieces) narrow the audience. It is the pop and easy listening pieces - normally under 5 minutes that broadens the audience. It seems to be a good "formula" to fill an album with hymns, pop pieces or shorter pieces and the toe-tappers and then add one test piece or longer piece.

    Single GREAT composers I think are a great formula. Black Dyke's Strauss CD or a the "Completely Catheral" CD by Ever Ready or from "Maine to Oregon" (all Sousa Marches) by Williams Fairey Band.

    Theme CDs do well. It seems like everyone has produced a movie theme or TV theme album.

    But really, who besides adjudicators and members of the top 5 or so bands listen to 17 minutes test pieces?

  4. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Well I do, but then I am an apalling geek sometimes...

    I think part of the problem is that bands in general are a fairly traditional and conservative bunch, and therefore attract a similar audience. Don't get me wrong, a big part of brass music's selling point is the hundred-plus-year tradition aspect, but that tradition is in itself a two-edged sword and anything that's maybe a bit too different for comfort is often derided as too far out in leftfield to be "Proper brass music."

    It's much easy to cro-bar a Woody Herman inspred modern jazz piece onto a CD if you sandwich it between Journey into freedom and Ravenswood, and your audience are far more likely to buy the CD because it has those two on it. And if they happen to listen to the modern jazz piece once, who knows? They might like it. Then horizons are broadened, and everyone's a winner.

    One has to give the audience at least some of what they want, and the simple fact is that old chestnuts do sell CDs. The problem is there are only so many old chestnuts to go round.

    As long as new ideas and compositions are making it onto the CD as well, then I don't think multiple recordings of the same piece should be seen as too much of a problem.

    I suppose the problem with that comes if one tries to buy a commercially-produced compilation CD from a major retailer. (HMV, Zavvi et al) Then it's the same pieces (and worse yet, the same recordings of the same pieces, usually from the 1970s) that show up every time.
  5. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Don't forget to factor in geographical availability into your equations.

    If you play for (and I don't mean this in a derogatory way - I just can't think of a different, more adequate way of phrasing it) a 'local' or lower section Band how are you selling your CDs?

    The vast majority of my clients take direct delivery of the product and self distribute - so they sell at concerts, off their own websites and so on. Some are distributed by, for example, Midland CD or 4BR.

    If you take this in concert (ho ho!) with the fact you've got to record pieces that will sell to your audiences (as you're literally selling direct to them) then you'll find that the vast majority of Bands record very similar programmes....

    Thirteen Ball's quite right about introducing some new stuff on your recordings - I try and make a point of it in all my literature....use it as a unique selling point.....but if Englebert Bloggs Butcher's Band makes a CD of Bourgeois you can pretty much guess how many units they'll shift.

    The story is different again when you start looking at the Bands whose material undergoes distribution.

    Take for example the Obrasso CDs.....they're catalogue samplers pure and simple....but these pieces will then insidiously infiltrate onto other Band's CDs...a Dyke CD of an arranged Beatles Anthology will sell purely on the back of it being Dyke (and maybe some of the audience like Beatles arrangements......just so long as it's not Queen (sorry Pete ;) ))....and again they're leading by example.

    The issue comes when the distributed bands all record the same things, or just churn out repeat recordings of things they've already done (maybe rebadged as being part of a 'series' or something) many of the (guess coming up) 30 odd recorded versions of Resurgam do I want to buy? OK, I've got a few versions of Knocking on Heaven's Door....but I'm selective even then....

    It's a difficult thing picking an appropriate programme, and has to have its base in commecial reality.
  6. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    Hmmm, Ive heard different bands on different recordings of one peice and it sounds different each time.
    example I heard Journey into Freedom played by Black Dyke and then heard a recording by Enfield SA and each recording very different. So multiple recordings of the same title may not be a bad thing as each MD has his / her own interprtation of how something should sound.
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Absolutely - that's not really in dispute - but say you've got a limited budget (haven't we all at the minute??) I'd much rather have to option to go out and buy CDs that don't have the same things on them.

    Jim's already mentioned the 'Films and Shows concept CD''s not really much of a concept album when the world, it's wife and it's dog has already done one....and (quite often) with the same arrangements of the same movie themes that you've heard on an Obrasso sampler...but as I said these are the things that are bringing your audiences in that you're indulging in some direct marketing you record them.

    I have to admit I'm less than unconvinced about owning multiple interpretations of Titanic ;)
  8. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    It also appears to me there's a certain school of thought which thinks "Well it's a new release and so we MUST record it before everyone else does" - which of course, lots of other people are thinking too, so everyone records the same sort of new pieces that everyone will have done to death inside 6 months. (Where eagles sing anybody?)

    When JR was our conductor, we had a hatful of stuff on our CD that no-one else had even played, including an arrangement by our then Flugel Player (And now principle Cornet with Waitakere brass in NZ) Carolyn of Siegfried's Funeral March, a brilliant hymn setting of Wolvercote by J.S. McGregor, and a longer test-piece style work by Richard Grantham called Gothic, all of which deserve far more exposure than we have so far managed to give them.

    And there's even more original stuff on the new one, which sadly we haven't got back from the recording company yet.

    It's not thrilling to turn up to play at a CD recording and be faced with oh look, Ruby Tuesday again, and David of the white rock, and maybe Finlandia...

    Copyright permission isn't that difficult to get, and composing/arranging can't be that hard if I can do it! Recogniseable stuff is a must - but it doesn't have to be the same old arrangements of recogniseable stuff.
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Spot on :D (IMHO)
  10. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    This is a really interesting debate. I don't believe this dilemma is limited to brass bands either. I'll never forget attending a performance by the Toronto Symphony in Roy Thomson Hall; five minutes into the first piece the chap behind me said, quite loudly, "Enough of this "bs", I'm off to the bar"! He embarrassed his wife and annoyed everyone around him. He wouldn't buy a CD now would he?

    In similar fashion, I've got some "pop" (using that term very loosely) CD's that I purchased for one specific song, but all the other songs are entirely different in style and I felt cheated. I'd heard the one song on the radio and thought I was buying a CD of similar material only to find that the rest of the CD was music the performer and/or producer preferred (like buying a CD to hear Josh Groban singing balads but he only sings one balad and the rest is JG performing a la Mick Jagger....if you get my drift).

    Doc Fox makes some good points from his radio audience perspective. For many years, Henry Shannon had a weekly brass band program on a prominent Toronto radio station (CFRB) and played mostly light music and marches. Once in a while he would play part of a larger piece...."the exciting finale to" etc. Not sure if it encouraged too many to go out and by an LP of the whole piece. I think radio is different in North America than the UK. There are classical stations but these tend to be member/listener funded; we have the CBC in Canada (similar to the BBC) and I've heard the ocassional band piece there (even heard Moorside Suite once) but that is the exception. I think Doc's audience is more akin to the bandstand in the park than the concert hall and that's what he's got to play to.

    Personally I listen to test pieces and longer works and get great enjoyment and satisfaction from that; but I also enjoy lighter material so long as it's well arranged and performed (eg: ISB- Together - which I think is really well done).
  11. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's a good illustrative example.

    Universal know exactly who their target market are and have programmed / recorded / marketed it in exactly the right way....much the same way as they have with Fron MVC.

    I wouldn't go out and buy it though as a punter (sorry!), but as I've said before I'm not part of that market.

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