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November 08, 2011

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Doug Zielke

Thanks to Marc for this excellent interview. And thanks to Mr. Pujol for helping keep real jazz alive. I've been enjoying some Fresh Sound "New Talent" releases lately. They are very well recorded, featuring many great up-and-coming artists.

Ed Leimbacher

I've enjoyed many Fresh Sound releases, and his discussion of the ruling laws is useful info. But Senor Pujol was also careful to avoid defining Lone Star and others of the Andorran persuasion; are they bootleggers even according to Spanish or Euro laws? Are the labels that dub from existing CDs illegal or not? Did he discuss his more dubious competitors, off the record perhaps?

And there's also the matter of fans swapping unauthorized tapes; who owns those and how many copies can you give away before you become a bootlegger? If someone like Dylan (or Brian Wilson with the new/old Smile assemblage) releases his own "bootlegs" to reclaim material in circulation, do those items muddy the legal water? Do fans have any claim on forgotten or privately obtained material? If Bill Evans shrugs off audience taping, does that mean he then has no claim and the fan can more safely circulate such tapes, even for profit?

And, and, and... well, this stuff must have established entire law school courses by now.

Richard Noorigian

Marc,
Great idea on this. I never questioned the logistics of this but you have done a wonderful job having it explained by a company owner. This type of variety makes your blog the most interesting and engaging of it's kind. Thanks for all of your efforts.

SJ

And nothing prevents Fresh Sound from paying royalties on the "out of copyright" cd's he stamps. He just chooses not to.

John McDonough

There comes a point in nearly all careers where recordings no longer bring in significant earnings. They become instead instruments of publicity and remembrance, essential to sustain a legacy. Therein lies the great blessing of public domain. But not all performers appreciate when that time has come.
Such artists when living may still be potent concert attractions, but their records often sell in small numbers. Not everyone can be Tony Bennett. Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie were not big disc sellers in their last decade or two. But Norman Granz continued to issue new product because it was self sustaining; and more important, it helped keep his artists before the public. Bing Crosby's recording career was at a stand still when a flurry of new releases made in England or privately by Crosby himself came to market in his last years and served notice that he was still active.
The need to have available recordings in circulation becomes even more important after the death of an important performer. Miles Davis and John Coltrane have proved more profitable in death, perhaps, than during their life times. But they've also been well promoted by Sony, Universal and Concord though prestigious boxed collections. Similarly, Capitol/EMI periodically invests in the upkeep of Nat Cole's profile.
But lesser known artists may not have that kind of posthumous support. In some cases, heirs may actively suppress any unauthorized issues, perhaps with the expectation that scarsity will enhance a legend's market value. In most cases, I think, this is a fantasy. Scarcity, in fact, hastens the onset of complete obscurity and accordingly the absence of any value.
Popular culture has been preserved in increasing volume for a century now. Each decade had added new media platforms of preservation, as layer after layer of once new and sensational performances have accumulated like plates of the earth's crust. It's an extremely crowded field, and will get more so, with survival going to the fittest and most widely available, according to rules of the marketplace enforced by Darwinian principles.
How long has it been since we've seen a significant Erroll Garner release? Martha Glaser's well known penchant for controlling all aspects of Garner's legacy may be smothering what she most values. The estate of Fred Astaire has reportedly demanded such high fees for use of his name and image in documentaries and other projects, that his name and image is disappearing from out cultural memory.

Ed Leimbacher

My thanks to John McDonough for bringing great eloquence and useful philosophical thought to a prickly matter.

John O'Gallagher

I have recorded for Jodi on his Fresh Sound New Talent label and can give you my perspective from working with him. I have found him to be a true friend of artists and one of the most ethical and forthright people I have met in this business. He is always up front about about what he can do because of the realities of the jazz record industry and should be praised for helping to keep this music alive.

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  • Marc Myers writes frequently on music and the arts for the Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (University of California Press). JazzWax has been named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year."
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