Gigs & Bytes: Universal Goes Deep
And no matter how hard your local record store tries to stock every recording ever made, the shop has only so much available floor space.
This is why online music services can be so exciting, for you can have that song recorded way back when by clicking your mouse now. In theory, music download stores have an infinite amount of floor space, limited only by the size of the hard drives on the servers. And if the drives fill up, they can always add more infinity, er, hard drives.
Universal Music understands the concept. The world’s biggest record label says it will reach into its vaults and digitize 100,000 out of print European recordings by such stars as Marianne Faithfull, Chris DeBurgh, Fairport Convention, and Brian Auger, according to Reuters.
Of course, there are complications, for nothing is easy in mankind’s quest for a perfect digital world.
Contracts, for example: Recording contracts reflecting the digital age are a recent invention, and the absence of such rights in older contracts can cause more than a few speed bumps when it comes to digitizing older recordings. Then there’s the source material, which can be anything from analog tapes, master disks or vinyl.
But Universal is confident that it can overcome such hurdles. It expects to sell the recordings via online stores such as Apple’s iTunes.
“Over the next three to four years, we aim to reissue perhaps as many as 10,000 albums for downloading, which amounts to more than 100,000 tracks,” said Barney Wragg, senior VP of Universal Music Group International’s eLabs division. “This program will offer material that, in some cases, goes back to the early days of recorded music.”