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Obscure hymn
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Springs



Joined: 10 Aug 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cannot answer for Martin Monkman but I might take a guess based on how I would feel in the same position. Although Amphion does take risks from time to time, Mr Monkman is shrewd and is not likely to want to throw money away. He knows the market for this kind of thing is small. The market for organ music is not large but there are a faithful few who will buy everything as a matter of course (rather like me with the Priory Psalms, Evening and Morning Canticles and Complete new English Hymnal). My impression is that the market for choral music is smaller still. Carols will sell well at Christmas, of course, and very good choirs will score when they have interesting or unusual repertoire which appeals to the wider music-loving public. King's will keep selling just because of its deserved reputation and Hyperion's Westminster on its imaginative programming as much as on its formidable choir. When we switch to purely liturgical music, however - short pieces: anthems, canticles, responses and psalms - and often endless repeats of the same material with little new to offer the discerning listener either in the programme or the interpretation, I think the number of potential customers is drastically reduced. Locals and casual visitors to the cathedral may buy the latest "Music for Passiontide" from Melbury Minster out of loyalty or as a souvenir, but, apart from the avid collector, who else will buy such a thing these days.

When I was a young man, Burns and Oates near Westminster Cathedral, and Mowbrays in London's shopping centre, both had specialist departments selling records of choral music. Much of my collection was built as a result of regular visits to these establishments. Harry Mudd made hundreds of records at that time, though I believe his highest sales came from a parish church (albeit a good one) record of popular hymns. Today, Priory keeps up the momentum as well as it can, but to service a far smaller customer base and, apart from some sales in the cathedrals themselves, must rely on its loyalty to pay for staff and premises.

I have had a little experience with the making of recordings, not of choirs but of solo trebles. We are not talking about Aled Jones-type sales here, for which enormous resources can be made available and a great deal of television and news promotion coupled with expensive advertising. Such recordings need to sell in huge numbers to pay off the investment. Without all this, the first decision to be made is do we press 1000 CDs or 500. Can we sell as many as 1000 over the next ten years. Advertising, even in specialist journals, rarely pays for itself in sales and may not even add another name to the 'mailing list'. The 'Anthology' would require a minimum of four CDs (possibly five or six). Storage space for another 5000 CDs for half a decade comes at a cost and, with a small scale operation, some of this will be human (we could just squeeze another ten boxes in the kids' nursery). I am sure Mr Monkman is judiciously weighing up the pros and cons. Seems as though the cons might be winning at the moment.

As regards the 'Treasury' on EMI, I have often thought of writing to ask them about reissues (as I did often with Decca and the John's Psalms - though I nearly missed it when it came out under a different title). I cannot see that a company that size could possibly see such a venture as profitable. I wonder, if the price were right, whether Regis might buy the rights. They did so with Harry Mudd's series of anthems from Magdalen. Another series which might possibly (and more likely I suspect) see the light of day again would be the BBC British Cathedrals and their Music. As well as the wider attraction of having Betjeman describe the buildings, these have samples of singing from Guildford, Liverpool, St Alban's, Chichester, Ely, Gloucester, Peterborough and Worcester. I have been listening to them again recently and they have that Betjeman charm which may still appeal.
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lancecornea



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 526
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I was wondering about Regis, and whether they might accept the challenge. Some of their re-issues have been very worthwhile. The other label which has an extensive selection of historic recordings is Naxos, and these are at very reasonable prices. They also seem to like "series" of recordings like Great Violinists, Great Pianists, Great Conductors etc. and "Best of ....". I think the Anthology and the Treasury would suit their marketing strategies even if their target market group is relatively small.

Lance
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