Good Notes from New York: HE 2004

Discussion in 'Music' started by Lee Scoggins, May 23, 2004.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Well I had a great time in NYC today even though they have not invented air conditioning here....

    Let's get three big news items out:

    1. I heard from a Sony insider that Sony is trying to get Bruce Springsteen albums lined up! Apparently there are ongoing negotiations.

    2. I heard from another industry insider that the reason that some big albums are held up is the lawyers from the Harry Fox Agency which represents the artists. They want three times the royalties for a hybrid SACD which disrupts the economics. Now we should blame Harry Fox instead of Sony.

    3. MoFi is about to announce new SACD selections from Rounder Records. They would not say what the albums were but they have been mastered and artists rights are being negotiated. It sounds like some good titles. Announcement due within 2 months, maybe one if all goes well.

    Highlights from the show:

    1. The Sony Qualia 004 reading 1080I from a BluRay device and projecting 1920x1080p onto a Stewart StudioTek 130 (also raved about by Joe Kane). I can't tell how amazing this SXRD-based picture was. The preview intro text was like 3D! The black levels were deep, wet, and better than any film theater I have seen recently. The colors were so real. It was like being on the set of the movie. It's a cliche but it was in many respects like looking through a window to see the action.

    2. Sony audio to go with the above. They linked their new 9000ES receiver (the size of a breadbox) to 9 (!) Wilson Audio Series 7 speakers plus a huge washing machine-sized subwoofer. Sounded even better than the last demo I heard in 2002 with 7 Wilson Watt/Puppies.

    3. Joe Kane giving a top notch video essentials based presentation on the new $12K Samsung projector. I have never seen 720P look so good. Perfect colors and calibration as you would expect.

    4. Good audio in a number of rooms: Naim, Reference 3A, Innersound (a bit bright...wish they had Maggie), Avatar OBRX, many new small players. Seemed very NYC focused with many good local dealers on hand showing their wares.

    5. Best overall sound: Sound By Singer JM Lab Grand Utopia Be with BAT amplification playing Super Audio discs.

    6. Great disc selection. Picked up some new Chesky SACDs and David's new CD, picked up the new Jacintha Bossa Nova (literally assembled by hand on the spot at the Elusive Disc booth). I also got the new Groove Note Stan Getz "Spring is Here".

    7. Bob Harley, editor of TAS, was manning the Music Direct booth and siging his 3rd edition of the Complete Guide to High End Audio. His wife Mona was there and they are the nicest people. Bob says TAS is having good circulation and people seem to be responding positively to the new direction of the magazine.

    8. Also met with Robert Rives Bird of Rives Audio. He makes the Parc room correction device which is superb and he also offers top-flight design packages for people with home theater and listening room design.

    I will add more later. I am quite tired from all the walking...

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    What, no comments on the Springsteen Super Audios? I thought that would lead to much discussion.
     
  3. Michael St. Clair

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    Maybe everybody is letting you have your own thread where only non-critical things can be said, and they are afraid of saying something which you may infer as negative or "retarded". [​IMG]
     
  4. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    That's cool. I haven't gotten around to listening to her music, yet.

    Was this an industy-only show or open to the public? If that latter, it's a shame I didn't make it.
     
  5. Phil A

    Phil A Producer
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    Would be great news if the Springsteen catalog were on SACD. I did forward it to a friend who is among the biggest Springsteen fans. It would certainly help Sony's credibility with the format given what they have released recently which is next to nothing. Hi-res has been disappointing before with things announced and then pulled back or delayed indefinitely. Both Sony and Warner are sitting on a big catalog of stuff that would be nice to have on hi-rez.
     
  6. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Lee,

    Thanks so much for the update. I believe Springsteen's catalog has not even been remastered, like some Billy Joel's titles, right? If Sony is able to release Springsteen onto SACD, it will mark another milestone for the format. So any details at all?

    What's the Harry Fox Agency? Do they represent every artists at Sony? I don't see Universal have such problems.
     
  7. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Sorry, I side with the song writers on this one. They need to hold their ground, especially as storage space continues to increase. With Blu-Ray, Sony could put out 5 or 6 versions of an album (doubtful, but still possible) and the writers would receive a single payment if they fold now. When Sony puts out single layer discs, the artists get royalties for the SACD as well as any redbook versions that are sold. Do you feel that just because they glue these two layers together, they should now only receive one payment?

    What you didn't mention was if Sony was willing to make concessions of any kind kind instead of paying out one royalty payment per disc. I have a feeling Sony wants the current structure to stay in place since a.) SA-CD releases cost more to produce (pressing, mastering) and b.)unless prices on the discs are raised, there are generally not enough sales of most SA-CD discs to justify additional royalty payments.

    It should be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I wonder if DVD-A does not have to deal with these same issues with big artists (Britney Spears and R. Kelly for example were just released), due to the on screen graphics which make this somewhat different then an audio only SACD. Artists may look at DVD-A in the same vain as a concert video, and not have similar royalties issues. Of course DVD-A to this point has nothing to do with CD technology, so new contracts may have been created specifically for this new media.


    J
     
  8. Michael St. Clair

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    Do film score composers get extra payments for the DD2.0, DD5.1, DTS5.1, French, Spanish, etc. tracks on DVDs?

    I do know that composers have successfully fought isolated scores on DVDs as they cut into CD sales, and I think that makes a lot of sense.

    I could see paying the publishers/artists double for the redbook and high-res layers, but I think paying triple to add a surround mix is taking it too far.
     
  9. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Sony and most other issuers of hybrid discs are getting a price premium for hybrid Super Audio discs. Where does that money go? The publishers should get an increased portion of the revenue but apparently they have not been up to this point. Apparently, Sony Music does not want them to either. If "a publisher" over at Hoffman's is to belived, Sony has turned down 2 settlement offers thus far. It looks like Sony Music would rather play chicken with the publishers, with SACD consumers stuck in the middle, than settle amiably.
     
  10. Michael St. Clair

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    How is Universal getting so many major-artist discs out the door, at a reasonable price? Perhaps they are more concerned about growing a new market than getting the highest possible margin.

    Then again, if Sony really did give Universal $250 million to give SACD preferential support over DVD-A, that will pay a lot of royalties.
     
  11. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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    No DVD-A news from the show?
     
  12. Ken Groulx

    Ken Groulx Stunt Coordinator

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    Believe me Lee, if SONY is finally able to get Springsteen and his procrastinating management to remaster/reissue his catalog for SACD, I would be elated, but as you mentioned, it's only in the discussion phase, which doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to the Boss; there has been 'discussion' about remastering/reissuing his catalog since 1995. I actually had my fingers crossed you'd come back from this saying Bob Ludwig is currently hard at work on them and they're on the way!

    I never doubted SONY tried to get Springsteen to release his records on SACD prior to this period, in fact, I'm sure he was one of the first artists approached for the rollout of the format, but until an official announcement is made, I'm hopeful but not holding my breath. It certainly would make sense though: Bruce's catalog (particularly his older records) is in dire need of remastering anyway, and a hybrid SACD campaign (a la Dylan) could service both audiophiles and redbook listeners alike. The fact that he actually has one title out - Live in NYC - demonstrates Bruce's camp is at least aware of the format, yet I've come to temper expectations when it comes to Bruce.

    As for this absurd triple royalty, it pains me to side with SONY, but it is still the same 'repertoire' on a single disc. This contention has really slowed whatever momentum the format was building; I don't listen to jazz or classical, and as a result, my own SACD purchases have essentially ceased because of it.
     
  13. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Lee, thanks for the report.

    Excellent point, Justin. Although I don't have near enough information yet, I too am inclined to side with talent/the writers on this.

    I'm at work now so don't have access to my collection and its liner notes to suss out/investigate a hunch--check your liner notes, folks: I bet there is a relationship between the SACDs we have seen released and Sony's ownership of the underlying publishing rights to the material. In other words, if the artist owns a significant chunk of their publishing, is repped by Harry Fox, and is unhappy about their royalty compensation for hi rez release(s), I think maybe those are SACDs from Sony artists that have gotten canceled/delayed.

    But this begs many questions: Why hasn't Sony done a press release saying something about this? As far as they're concerned, it's not their fault so how much egg could end up on their coporate face by acknowledging that the talent community is in their opinion stymying their SACD format's prospects? It's not like there's a court-imposed gag order on the matter. Perhaps the proposed BMG merger (and the EU's recently-announced opposition to it) is too distracting?

    And speaking of gag orders, what about Michael Jackson? Through Sony/ATV, he owns a significant chuck of his own publishing. Why only Thriller? Those "SE" redbooks have been out long enough. But MJ is probably a terrible example/point of departure, what with his strained relationship with Sony (calling Mottola "the devil"), the conclusion of his obligations to the label with Number Ones and that, um, indictment.

    -p
     
  14. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    A description of the agency from an EntertainmentCareers.net job listing :

    The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA) is the world’s largest music rights organization, acting as licensing agent for more than 27,000 music publisher principals, who in turn represent the interests of more than 160,000 songwriters. HFA was established in 1927 to provide an information source, clearing house and monitoring service for licensing musical copyrights. In addition to the core business functions of licensing, collections and distribution of royalties, HFA conducts periodic record company and other user royalty examinations on behalf of its clients. HFA is the licensing affiliate of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA).

    -p

    P.S. - Found the Website (above post edited): http://www.harryfox.com/
     
  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Funny. I asked the same question and got a very good answer. These things are generally not discussed in public in the music business. Sony is seeking to quietly reach an arrangement.
     
  16. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  17. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Paul, I didn't know, remember the name of the publisher's lot, so I just called them a guild. This thingy is clearing up some. If "a publisher" is to be believed, European releases always have higher royalty payments than U.S. releases. He described a two-tiered system in the U.S. where the label can force a lower rate on to certain releases. He mentioned that U.S. greatest hits CD's often are shorter than other wee-juns. If they went over a certain number of songs then the label had to pay the higher of the two tiers.

    It appears to me that U.S. songwriters could be a bit underpaid. Sony seems rather vindictive here since they've canceled all their SA-CD releases presumably to minimize potential/future payments to Harry Fox and his consortium or others. They don't show much respect for their customers, cutting them off. And, it certainly looks like hardball against the Harry Foxes.

    I wish there more published stories about this feud. I wish all side would aggree to binding arbitration AND GET ON WITH IT!!!

    I think Sony Electronics and Sony Music better get their strategy straight. Who's serving who? Like shouldn't we symbiots! [​IMG]
     
  18. Rob M.

    Rob M. Stunt Coordinator

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    This is MOST excellent; how did this slip past our forum until now? According to that link, the disc will be released in just a few weeks (6/8/04).
     
  19. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    I say let the issue be decided by the people here at the "Music" section of HTF.
     
  20. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Rachael,

    It is clear to me that you just won't accept the fact that Harry Fox is culprit here, NOT SONY.

    Get a clue and recognize that it is not Sony's fault. There's only so much they can do until the royalty problem is fixed. The DVDA labels at HE2004 were also complaining about this.

    Songwriters don't deserve to be paid in triplicate for one disc of content. Plain and simple.
     

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