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GUEST,Ballyholme Outlet Records Going Under (6) RE: Outlet Records Going Under 12 Mar 04

From the Belfast Telegraph:

LAST-ditch legal moves were being made today in an attempt to save the revered Outlet record label from going under.

But it is almost certain that the recording and distribution company set up by Billy McBurney in Belfast's Smithfield nearly 40 years ago will go into voluntary liquidation.

"It has been a torrid last couple of years," said Mr McBurney, the man who helped further the career of Ulster artists like the late David McWilliams of Days of Pearly Spencer fame.

"I take pride in the fact that I gave homebred artists respectability with their own home-based labels Outlet and Homespun, first of all in Smithfield and then at the present studios in Gordon Street behind St Anne's Cathedral.

"But it's over, an era is ending. The record business is a different world today than when I set out as one of the two pioneering studios in Belfast.

"The first studio was at the rear of the old St Mary's Hall in Bank Street before we put up a designer studio in Smithfield and formed Outlet in 1968."

It was a dispute with Ronnie Drew's Dubliners early last year over mastertapes and royalties that led to an out of court settlement in favour of the southern folk group in the region of £900,000 which finally crippled Outlet, which distributes records and CDs all over Ireland and in America.

Mr McBurney (73), retired from direct control of the company two years ago, making way for his son-in-law Canice McGarry to take charge, but the veteran has been involved in negotiations to find a way out of the present financial problems.

"There have been too many imponderables," he said. "Canice and the staff of 11 will now lose their jobs."

Even the Pope cut a disc for Outlet. His visit to Ireland was recorded by a team of sound men who followed him everywhere.

The LP was masterminded by the late studio engineer Cel Fay who moved to Outlet after playing with Phil Coulter and his Gleemen.

Later His Holiness was presented with a Gold Disc.

Cel reckoned the best Outlet recording was Working for the Government by McWilliams, but the most successful was Barnbrack's Belfast which still sells all over the world.

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