[I wrote this a few months back, just dug it out...] Over at Deleting Music, Andrew Dubber has posted about a piece from The Vine on an Australian record label that has been operating sicnce 2005, painstakingly restoring and reissuing out-of-print albums...
"... Gil Matthews is probably best known as the drummer for Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, but he has also built a solid business giving many classic Australian albums new life on CD. Since 2005 the label Aztec Music has released about 60 titles, each with high-quality packaging and a 28-page booklet, creating a business with a yearly turnover of about $250,000. ”There are an incredible number of titles we could release if we had the time,” says Matthews. ”If we had a catalogue of 300 titles, this would be close to a million-dollar business.”
Each release is a painstaking process, requiring Matthews to go back to the ageing master tapes — or even vinyl if tapes are unavailable — and restore them for the digital format. ”Sometimes it can take 40 hours alone to remove all the clicks and pops from the original source — it’s almost a labour of love,” says Matthews.
There's a huge amount of music that is out of circulation and will never, ever get reissued. That's why I still go digging for records, because there is always good music to be found on vinyl that will never turn up on iTunes in a million years.
Supersoulsisters is a blog started by Nosi, a music fan to share some singers he loves. He's digitising his vinyl, photographing the covers and researching the history behind these singers to share. He ran this blog from Feb to Dec 2009 before shuttering it.
Take this post on Della Reese and her album Black Is Beautiful from 1969. He gives some background, talks about the album, and who should pop up in the comments but Della Reese! Is she mad that he's giving away her music for free? No, she's glad someone remembers her and cares enough to write about her music.
There are a wealth of music fans who are digitising their old vinyl, photographing the covers (front and back, plus inner sleeves and labels) and uploading them to the internet via blogs. Clearly, they don't have the legal rights to do this, obviously. But the labels that do own the rights, if they still exist, mostly have no interest in reissuing them. There's no financial reason for them to do so. They do of course still own the rights to that recording.
An exception would be say Warners, who have done some good work with their extensive archive (or at least allowed some clever folk at Rhino access to their vaults), like the Rhino 5 CD boxsets (got the Charles Wright boxset? It's awesome, only $20) or the exquisitely packaged What It Is box set. But it's really only scratching the surface.