Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's In Your Vault? Record Labels Blind To Their Wares

Now that Citigroup bank has taken control of the EMI label, formerly owned by Guy Hands, its next step will be to find a buyer. Potential suitors: Sony Music Entertainment, Vivendi SA's (VIVEF) Universal Music Group and Warner Music. How does this impact classical music? In discussing the EMI catalog the only names seriously bandied around are The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Surely the entire recorded legacy of Maria Callas is worth something to a potential new parent company. Not to mention early treasures of Herbert von Karajan, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Riccardo Muti and many others.
The Beatles and Maria Callas: Big money makers for the label, but one gets priority during a merger.
(Angus McBean photographed both of the above album covers for EMI)

This poses the question of who will be the keeper to a vast history of opera and vocal recordings inside labels when mega-corporations start to swallow their competitors whole? In an effort to shine a light on these treasures that will continually be buried in the sound vaults of record labels with the inception of each new regime, I want to start posting about the history of the world's most elite producers of classical music. The series will be called "From The Vault" and will feature a recording that was released on LP but never made the transition to CD with little hope of ever getting a streaming or download incarnation in the future.

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