Little P.S. on BYG and Royalties

A couple young compatriots have wondered why I was waxing (“waxing” — geddit?) nostalgic about a record label that made money by selling vinyl without paying royalties to anybody anywhere.

The key word is “nostalgic” — were are talking about a different music-retail world, here. When I got the Parker sides on BYG, the seller himself — only store in Missoula that carried non-mainstream jazz — told me they were essentially boots but it was the only way in hell at that time I was gonna hear the music. When small record labels were out of business back then, they were Out. Of. Business. Forever, for all we knew.

Of course the world of popular music history changed when James Brown Live at the Apollo was reissued and before you knew it, operations like Rhino were relative powerhouses.

So my basic stance is this: buy a legitimate, royalty-paying release whenever available. And nowadays, just about everything is out there. Well, except Into the Unknown by Bad Religion — oh, wait …

2 thoughts on “Little P.S. on BYG and Royalties

  1. This also applies to the Original Music label. Many years after they went out of business (and John Storm Roberts’ dath), most of what they released is still not available in any other label. It was basically a labour of love even if they were “boots”.

  2. I’ve heard various stories about Original Music — the most favorable being that when Roberts could determine who and where to send royalties, he would. The middling one is that he didn’t try very hard to find out who and where that might be. The middling-negative one is that when he was contacted by pissed-off artists he would send royalties. The hard-to-deny most negative one is that, well, there’s a reason none of those records are available for sale any more.

    What I can say for sure is that I wish to hell I had quizzed him about the issue when I interviewed him for the NY Times. (I was in total ignorance about the matter.)

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