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Matthew

Will American Jazz labels be dead in 10 years?

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I went to my local Tower record store today, and I was shocked to see an Euro import entitled: Lou Donaldson The 1952 Blue Note Sessions. I have been hearing rumblings about the 50 vs. 75 year copyright law concerning the US and Europe, but for the first time, it really hit me -- in seven years there is the real possibility for every Blue Note record from the 50's to be in print from European sources. What will happen to companies who depend on the revenue for reissues? One of which is Blue Note. How can these American companies make a living? Forget Norah Jones being the end for Blue Note, Europe will do it, and make money off the corpse.

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Well, I agree with you in principle but not at this point.

The fact is that Cuscuna has said many times that most 1950s dates don't do well as reissues and that is why they have only seen the light of day as Mosaic sets (the Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Hank Mobley sets for example). So these are not the dates that Blue Note is reissuing and for those they do reissue, like the Messengers RVGs, well, they've just been sonically upgraded, and being available from the source the European labels can't expect to make much off of them.

But you are right in principle ... eventually European law will make things like the Connoisseur series completely unnecessary.

Will this ultimately hurt Mosaic? Perhaps though Mosaic has the added value of the limited edition nature and the "classy" image the company has worked hard to attain.

And on the other hand, the European laws should work to finally eliminate Verve's padlock on almost all of their holdings, and that would be a good thing!

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Hopefully buyers will not buy these European low cost imports and realize what will be the future be for American Jazz reissues when Europe can undercut the small market as it is for reissues.

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Or maybe... just a thought... we can not worry about 50 year old recordings and start buying new music!!

:excited:

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There is a different way of looking at this.

The US is currently pressurising Europe to raise the copyright to 75 years.

Now who really benefits from this? The artists? No, it's the companies. I doubt if much of the money from a 50s reissue goes into the pockets of the original artist or their dependents. Yes, I feel for smaller labels who have survived and rely on this revenue for their continued success (though I wonder how many are left; I suspect most have been bought out by the big boys). But in general when RCA puts out its Ellingon reissues we all know where any profit goes.

No, I'd suggest that rather than boycotting European issues you start putting pressure on your own government to bring the copyright laws down to 50 years. That strikes me as plenty of time for artists, labels etc to recoup their investment and benefit from them. I can see the argument for the performer to profit from his creations; I can see the point of them also helping to support the immediate dependents for a time. But after that...do the Coltrane or Hendrix or whoever families really deserve to enjoy the profits coming from the wave of reissues now that any immediate spouses/children have had plenty of time to stand on their own two feet?

There is the big issue of the difference between those companies that meticulously remaster; and those who copy and bang out cheap retreads. It is an issue, its one that gets harder as digital copying makes it easier for the latter to use the former. I can't see an easy solution there and suspect that it will ultimately come down to consumer morality. I don't think you can really legislate against Disconforme and their like.

I did buy a couple of Disconforme sets until I realised what was happening. I'm more guarded now, only buying items that have been approved by the musicians themselves (e,g, the Graham Collier reissues).

***********

Yes, US reissue labels could be in trouble in the next ten years if the differential remains. Expect big legal fights to come, not so much on jazz recordings. It's when Elvis goes out of copyright here that the action will really hot up. And imagine what it's going to be like when they get to The Beatles.

My view is that extending the copyright laws to 75 years in Europe will generally benefit one group of people...those who are already very, very rich.

Opening up 50 year old recordings to the widest possible distribution will introduce more people to the glories of older music.

The record companies might lose out; but the diversity of music and the possibility of that diversity feeding into current music will win.

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Hopefully buyers will not buy these European low cost imports and realize what will be the future be for American Jazz reissues when Europe can undercut the small market as it is for reissues.

Fuggetaboudit... I'll go with the imports, if that's how I can get the music. I really don't care which company is issuing the music if it's the music I want. If American companies want to complain about that attitude, tough. They lobbied for these laws and won. Now they get the results of their victory.

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Or maybe... just a thought... we can not worry about 50 year old recordings and start buying new music!!

:excited:

Amen. My feelings exactly. I buy reissues and support the labels that recorded the music originally as long as they reissue the music properly, but I'm more concerned with supporting the labels that are recording and documenting contemporary music.

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I've personally have no problem with companies reissuing material legally. I have a big problem with the companies that appear to pirate material that has been reissued by US companies who still operate under the constraints of the 75 year policy.

For these older sets and releases, I enjoy the information that is provided with the release. Specifically, I enjoy the booklets, photos, essays and historical context that is provided by by a well crafted booklet. I purchased a lot of this material to explore from a historical perspective as well as to enjoy, so that kind of information is essential for me. Obviously, Mosaic is the premier produce of these types of sets and I'll continue to buy these so long as they maintain this letvel of quality. It's why I have the Mosaic Reinhardt rather than volume 2 of the JSP set and why I have the Mosaic Mildred Bailey rather than that rip-off version.

I have heard good things about Proper, especially in the booklet area, so I will have to give them a shot as well.

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This discussion has already taken place multiple times on the BNBB. I don´t want to repeat the arguments, but I must point out that those imports can be prohibited. The CDs are only legal in countries that have a 50 year copyright on sound recordings.

It is of course not forbidden for US customers to order those CDs from european online shops, but it should not be a problem to prevent the big US stores from selling them.

It seems to be easier for the US industry to pressure EU legislators than to enforce their rights against US retailers. :angry:

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I sort of agree with JazzMoose on this.I don't like the obvious rip offs by the Disconforme ?/Jazz Factory crowd who often seem only able to bring out CDs that have recently been offered by Mosaic or one of the more "legitimate" companies. But I'm glad for the 50 year rule as we are getting music that perhaps would not see for a long time in any other form.

If the companies object, get their way, and then keep the older rarer items locked up.. what's the point?

Mosaic type reissues will survive as long as they offer extra material that might never have surfaced e.g. the Strazzeri set in the recent Carmell Jones select.

If the big companies ( Verve ) and Mosaic /Blue Note feel 50 year old material is not a viable product. Then thank the Big G that these " bootleg" companies exist and the copyright restriction is what it is.

I do buy 'new' music too :D

Edited by P.D.

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It seems to be easier for the US industry to pressure EU legislators than to enforce their rights against US retailers. :angry:

And it seems to be more reasonable and/or profitable for them to start a lawsuit with some European or import companies than to do these reissues themselves!

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Or maybe... just a thought... we can not worry about 50 year old recordings and start buying new music!!

:excited:

Whilst I accept the 'I don't buy many reissues, I support new music' argument as a matter of personal preference I think it's pretty shaky as a moral stance.

A society that just buys reissues is asking for musical stagnation; but equally one that ignores the rich and varied heritage of the past is just turning its back on some incredible nutrition.

Again and again you find contemporary music getting into a cul-de-sac; and often the way forward turns out to be by taking a step back. Younger musicians discovering for themselves a way of doing things very different from what is common to their own times. Think the Byrds or Gram Parsons/Emmylou or Fairport or the Young Lions of the early 80s or the blues rockers of the 60s or the way Italian jazz musicians have rediscovered their own folk culture.

A strong reissue programme and the emergence of vibrant new music are not mutually exclusive situations; I'd actually suggest they are vitally connected.

And I say that as one who buys far more new music than reissues.

It's one reason why I find it impossible to shed tears for corporations who bleat about their music being pirated and then keep it locked away.

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