Thank you so much for the great service you did for all serious jazz lovers regarding Concord’s discontinuing so many important titles. This is infuriating and exasperating news. Key titles by Miles, Trane, and so many others will soon be axed. It’s disgusting. I was already p____d off when they canned Terre Hinte. This is too much.
Jan Stevens is the proprietor of the The Bill Evans Web Pages.
Thanks for the heads-up on Concord Records’ Summer Blowout–and subsequent unavailability of a lot of great recordings. Having read your piece EARLY this morning, I immediately went to the Concord website and ordered the Bill Evans Riverside collection. My Evans LPs are getting pretty scratchy and I wouldn’t want to be without those in future.
I’m sure this means the end of the availability of these titles as CDs (and I bought a pantload of them at the beginning of the week, since once you hit 30 they are an astonishing $2.98 each)–but that may not mean that they disappear. For some time, Verve has been making portions of its catalogue available on a download-only basis (viz., Herb and Lorraine Geller’s early recordings), and if Concord has any sense, it will do the same. Many independent labels–like New York City’s wonderful Sunnyside–are decreasing their CD runs and relying on downloads. Here’s hoping Concord is just switching formats, so that the only unpleasant side effect will be the need for some of us to do the same.
Two thoughts on today’s post about Concord and OJC:
I suspect Concord is going with the times and temper of the brick-and-mortar retail business and preparing to move much of its catalog to online retailers, much as Verve has done in the past couple of years.
The slow turnover of jazz CDs at retail, combined with unreasonable pricing in the entire industry, is changing the market for recorded jazz irrevocably. Two of the largest jazz (and classical) catalog accounts, Barnes & Noble and Borders, have recently declared their intentions to reduce floor space devoted to CDs in favor of DVDs and other items. What we call “deep catalog” is bound to take a big hit; but I wouldn’t necessarily assume that much of this music will be “out of print” forever. One will just have to find it online.
In fact, jazz and classical music are just the leading edge of this trend. A staggering percentage of the staggering number of CDs still released annually have a limited to bleak future in the chain stores.
Which leads me to my second thought, actually a recommendation: Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, a new book that provides some clearly expressed theory about digital age retail economics. It only takes an evening to read, and I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are about the book as it relates to the jazz “marketplace.”
If the download is the future medium for music, I hope that Mr. Levin’s and Mr. Mitchell’s forecast for Concord is accurate. One place younger buyers are not going for music, in addition to the chain book stores Mr. Mitchell mentions, is your friendly corner CD shop. Here is some of what Alex Williams wrote in Sunday’s New York Times.
In the era of iTunes and MySpace, the customer base that still thinks of recorded music as a physical commodity (that is, a CD), as opposed to a digital file to be downloaded, is shrinking and aging, further imperiling record stores already under pressure from mass-market discounters like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
To read the whole thing, go here.
Much of the OJC catalog is already available for (fully legal) download on emusic.com. Prices are much better than iTunes and they are plain old variable-bit-rate MP3 files without that pesky digital rights management. I’ve been a satisfied member for a couple of years. They also have a lot of small-label jazz. Candid, Palmetto, Sunnyside and some of the Leo catalog, for example. Worth checking out. No liner notes, though!
Doug Benson says
Concord has actually held warehouse deletion sales regularly over the pre-Fantasy purchase era.
Artists such as George Barnes, Al Cohn, Ray Brown, Jimmy Rowles, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, etc. were offered at bargain prices in discounted bundles—-both on CD & cassette. It would be nice if the Concord out of print catalog, which contains such items as “Royal Blue” & “First Chair” by the great alto player Marshal Royal and also a total of 3 albums by the tenor player Richie Kamuca, among other OOP gems, would be combined into twofers instead of the cynical recycling done under the guise of the “Prestige Profiles” series.