A project that has long been on my mind is coming closer to being a reality and we need your help.
For many years I have been aghast at the way the music industry treats artists, recording and mastering experts. It’s basically awful. If you are a big star you do well, anything less and it’s hard to even make a living. And on top of that, we Audiophiles never have enough quality music at hand. There are people in this industry working through these issues in a fair and honorable way, Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records tops my list. There are others as well, like Chad Kassam of Acoustic Sounds. All working hard to preserve the quality and art in what we as listeners love.
But it’s a losing battle. Artists cannot make a living, recording studios as well as mastering facilities are dropping like flies. In their places are homebrew studios using Pro Tools and generally degrading the quality of recordings.
So I asked myself what is it PS Audio can do to help? And it occurred to us we could do our bit to change the dynamic, to fundamentally alter the way in which recording artists and studios are compensated. And we could do that with the support of our community of music and audio lovers willing to help.
Let me tell you what currently happens in all but a few instances. The distribution companies that publish and market music make the lion’s share of the money, many times in excess of 95% of all revenues generated. The meager remains are distributed back to the artists, the studios that recorded and mastered their work getting even less. Companies like Apple have done better, sharing 70% of the proceeds of music to the artist, 30% for themselves. This is fair and equitable and closer to the way it should be … only, the amount they charge for the music is so little that unless you are a mega star, there’s nothing in it to put food on the table and encourage the release of even more material.
So here’s what we are going to do. We have partnered with our good friend and world famous mastering engineer Gus Skinas, along with local high end recording studio Immersive, and a group of very excellent musicians (names can’t be told until the contracts are all signed, but they’re awesome) to make our first release on a new label we are starting, PS Records.
This first release, and probably most that follow, will be physical media copies, not downloads. There’s a whole philosophical thing we have about downloads and there’s not space enough to go into it here. Inside the physical media package will be two discs: a CD and a DVD. The CD will contain perfectly mastered copies of the original high resolution files. The DVD will contain both the original master DSD recordings as well as 176/24 PCM versions, so each package has three formats from which to enjoy, all mastered expertly by Gus Skinas on his system and curated and checked for final results in Music Room One on the IRSV.
We will also include a multi-page booklet, with not only a bio for each artist but the layout of the recording and photographs when we have them.
The model of distribution and reimbursement will be very different. In this version we will sell the discs around the world ourselves without going through dealers, for $39.95 each. After covering the physical costs of the package itself as well as its fulfilment (figure about $10) the balance of $30 is split 80/20, with 80% shared between the musicians and the recording people that made and funded the studio and mastering time. 20% will go to PS Audio, the distributor and marketer, with the hopes of making enough money to repeat the process and make more. This is not a money making venture for us, rather, we want the lion’s share to go where it belongs, in the hands of those that make the music.
It’s a very different, open architecture approach that we believe could change the face of the recording industry if it is both successful and then adopted by others. Fingers crossed on both accounts.
I bring this to your attention for several reasons, among them: we need to name the album and we need to start thinking about how we will spread the word to our fellow Audiophiles to help make this a success. In keeping with the originality of this venture, we have hired a photographer to shoot the front cover. Scott McCormick is a famous creative for album covers, having shot many. We gave him carte blanche and asked only that the cover reflect the same level of creativity and art direction as does the music inside. Attached is what he came up with. Yes, it’s a little dark in subject matter, but I love it!
Can you help us by suggesting names for this first work? The name of the album should reflect both the ‘thumbing our nose’ attitude toward the status quo of how artists and recordists are compensated and also reflect the care and beauty of what is inside. On this you will have to trust me, the sound quality is nothing short of breathtaking on all cuts. I have nearly fallen off my chair listening to them, so good they are and this is an album you will all treasure having.
Any help and suggestions as to the name and ideas of how to spread the word are greatly appreciated. We hope to release in late spring.
Some names that have already been suggested, but so far haven’t struck a chord are:
- Needle tracks
- It is broke, fix it
- Found in translation
- Master series
- Direct Stream Collection