Friday, September 19, 2008

The Death Of The Dunedin Sound

The Flying Nun music back catalogue is quite simply one of the most outstanding of any of the independent labels in the world.
Martin Phillipps

It’s pretty sad, because a big part of our work is locked away and lost. The average fan overseas should be able to buy the CDs. It’s a big problem, a big bone of contention.
Robert Scott

Flying Nun alumni are getting their pants in a wad over Warners – who own the FN catalogue – failing to keep recordings available in either physical or digital formats, as the article below from Dunedin’s D-Scene newspaper explains.

I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for large parts of the Flying Nun back catalogue – particularly many of the classics that Robert Scott and Martin Phillipps have made – but my suspicion is that a major label like Warners can argue easily that basic economics rules out physical reissues. No matter how much anyone loves The Bats or The Chills or The Magick Heads – and believe me, I love them to distraction – they know that, however unjust it seemed at the time, those bands didn’t sell enough records to push them into the big boys league of Rock Classics That Will Never Be Deleted.

The case for the Flying Nun catalogue being available as downloads, though, is a simple one. All that’s needed is someone at Warners with some support for Flying Nun. In the end, this story is one of music’s oldest: major record company doesn’t care about music, doesn’t employ enough people who care about music and ignores the commercial potential of their smaller acts.


Anonymous said...

I think one of the issue the article doesn't address is that the artists (or other labels interested in re-releases) can't even get anyone at Warners to respond to requests to discuss things like licensing back their own stuff. So, bands wanting to re-issue stuff themselves, or put together compilations, or DVDs of videos or whatever are screwed.

FireEscape said...

The article does say that no one at Warners is looking after FN's affairs and that they couldn't get a response from Warners before publication. Which suggests that Warners is short-staffed or really doesn't give a fuck about FN. Perhaps both things are true.

I am surprised, though, that if artists want to licence their own material for reissue, why the Special Marketing department of Warners is reluctant to respond favourably, as in a time of decreasing revenue streams for majors, licensing back catalogue remains a simple way to raise money.

harveyw said...

Ooh, that's a very interesting graph!

And record companies wonder why illegal filesharing exists.

I guess the availability of Flying Nun product is preety insignificant in the Warners scheme of things, but yes, it's a piece of cake to release something online these days.

Theoretically, if Warners are actively (or even passively) preventing this music from being heard, a lawyer should be able to revert the rights back to the artist from the record company. I know plenty of reissue labels (certainly RevOla) work on that basis, which is why you rarely see a "licensed from...." message on RevOla CDs.

FireEscape said...

That's a great tip, Harv. Now, if Robert or Martin or any FN artists are reading this, you know what to do!

sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.