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Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?

23 Feb 99 - 03:37 AM (#59764)
Subject: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Joe Offer

In another thread, somebody said the Doc Watson Vanguard Years 4-CD set contained everything Doc recorded for Vanguard. It certainly does not. It has a mere 64 songs, a total of about 175 minutes - that's under 44 minutes per CD, and it would easily fit on 3 CD's. Vanguard was quite generous on their Weavers and Baez box sets, but they sure were stingy with their Doc Watson music. I wonder why.
You expect to be shortchanged by some labels. The Curb label, owned by a former lieutenant governor of California and former head of the easy-listening Mike Curb Congregation, packages hundreds of reissues, 10 to 12 cuts per disc. He came to Sacramento one day a week when he was lieutenant governor, so what do you expect?
Country CD's are usually 10 cuts, 30 minutes - but there are signs of improvement there. Columbia used to be cheap about the length of reissue CD's but they don't seem to be as bad as they used to be.
But Vanguard has hours and hours of Doc Watson material - why is it that I got so little for my money? I was really looking forward to this Doc Watson box, but it was a disappointment when it came out - great music, but not very much of it. Can anybody explain to me why some of these reissues contain so little music?
-Joe Offer-

23 Feb 99 - 09:42 AM (#59792)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Liam's Brother

Hi Joe!

I think this is nore an issue of "reasoning" rather than "reason." The CD format holds about 74 minutes of music. An LP holds about 45 minutes.

Clearly, you are correct. Vanguard could have loaded the individual CDs with considerably more music. The reason why they didn't might be one (or both) of the following:

1. It's less profitable to do so, and/or

2. Many people think of a disc as a program. 74 minutes is a long program... not an ideal program length for some people.

All the best, Dan

23 Feb 99 - 10:21 AM (#59798)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Art Thieme

The CD I put out recently is, very possibly, the last one I'll be doing. I wanted to put as much as I could on there to give back something to the folks who have been so very supportive over the years---ie. there's 73 minutes and 50 seconds. If I could've found a song to fill up those 10 seconds at the end I'd've put it on there too. The music came to me free and I just wanted to get the songs out there where pickers might find 'em and like some of 'em and sing 'em. But the ethic of the music biz is different. I do know that---ant that's O.K. too. Is what is.


23 Feb 99 - 10:53 AM (#59801)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Bert

I think it started out with what people will buy that determines what they sell.

Why put 20 tracks on one CD when people will buy 2 CDs with 10 tracks each? It has become a kind of standard, so if you put more tracks on a CD, you run the risk of being perceived as a beginner in the industry.

If we only buy from those guys like Art and Tom Paxton who give good value for money then perhaps we can change this.


23 Feb 99 - 09:48 PM (#59926)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: puzzled

Seems like standard issue for commercial cassettes is 45 min. So I always assumed that the matching CD's (of the same title) were held to 45 minutes so that the people who buy tapes would not feel cheated. Some bands offer their CDs with "bonus tracks". Again, I thought that was so the cassette buyers would be appeased since the product they bought was cheaper even if it was minus the "bonus tracks" of the CD. Or to encourage the purchase of the CD instead of the tape.
I certainly perfer getting CDs of full link like Art's. Did you do cassettes, too, Art, or just CDs?
I certainly agree with Joe that reissues on CDs should be full link. I haven't seen many reissues on cassette. But I would guess the reason the Cds aren't full lenght is simply a money issue for the record company. I was also disappointed.

23 Feb 99 - 10:11 PM (#59928)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Art Thieme


In olden times I did 4 LPs, 4 cassettes & FINALLY the 1 CD. The 2 Folk Legacy LPs are still out on cassette from Sandy.


23 Feb 99 - 11:31 PM (#59937)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Sandy Paton

I may have goofed when I put about 70 minutes from our earlier Bok, Muir, and Trickett Folk-Legacy recordings on each of our The First Fifteen Years (Volumes 1 & 2) CDs. Apparently a lot of people want to get exactly the same program they had on their old LP versions. Our later BMT recordings, and those by other good folk like Rick Fielding, the ones that went directly to CD, were also over 60 minutes long, and there are those who complain that a program of that length is too much. I dunno. I felt that since they were going to cost 50% more than the LP did, they ought to offer 50% more music. Of course, our LPs were always about 44 to 48 minutes long, so I couldn't put two of 'em on one CD. That meant re-programming, new booklets of notes and lyrics, etc., to give folks a CD of decent value.

Now I'm faced with the problem of re-releasing the old LPs on CD, just as they were originally done. At least the old booklets will be usable, saving me a lot of extra printing costs and typing. I guess these releases will still give a decent value; they're longer than many of the CDs I get from other companies. No names, but I was really ticked off when I bought a CD of a good politically radical songmaker for my grandaughter and found it only about 35 minutes long. I felt I'd been stung by his label, not by him.

Let me ask you Mudcatters this: is a 48 minute CD fair enough?


24 Feb 99 - 12:17 AM (#59943)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: rick fielding

Somehow, people on the "business" side of folk music have figured out that their listeners' attention spans are between 40 and 50 minutes. NO MORE! I have discussed this with at least a dozen people over the last couple of years and have not found ONE person ( with the exception of Sandy P.) to agree with me that the more music, the better the album. (assuming your not stocking it with filler) I think the problem may be that I must have too much time on my hands to listen to music. Damn, why did I forget to have kids?

24 Feb 99 - 02:59 AM (#59955)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?

Rick, I DO agree with you that the more music, the better the CD - depending on the quality of the music, of course (also, I don't have kids ...). I have been annoyed time and again by LP reissues on CD which were the length of LPs but the price of CDs. I've got two under forty minutes, which isn't much even by LP standards. I do feel it is fairer to put on bonus tracks. The Battlefield Band found a very elegant solution when they added a 4-cut-demo they'd made around the time to the reissue of 'Standing Easy'. Others, like the Ian Campbell Folk Group, have managed to squeeze two LPs onto one CD.
I doubt it's got to do with attention span - just profiteering. - Susanne

24 Feb 99 - 03:09 AM (#59956)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Joe Offer

I like my CD's full, Sandy. 45 minutes is OK, but I feel cheated if I get much less. I really feel ripped off when I get a 2-CD set, and find the two albums would fit on one CD. The Willie Nelson "IRS Tapes" album was one, but not the only one that Columbia did like that. It seems that most folk CD's are 45-60 minutes or longer - a much better bargain than the pop and country stuff.
The Bok-Muir-Trickett CD's are some of my favorites, by the way. I'd sure like to see those two Art Thieme LP's on a CD. Folk-Legacy has all sorts of recordings I'd love to buy - but not on cassette or LP. Bring 'em on, Sandy! (but be generous)
-Joe Offer-

24 Feb 99 - 08:35 AM (#59981)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: hank

I agree, I want more music. Maybe because my listening style is at work, and I don't want too many repeats in the week. (my cd collection is kinda small yet too) As for cassettes, it accually costs more money to make a cassette, but they sell for less money. Most of us have seen 90 minute cassetes in stores, so length of a cassette isn't a problem, other then longer cassettes cost more to record. Me, I want to see more music on my CDs, every artist I know of has more then 13 songs in their bag of tricks. Most are not great, but they are good enough to include on a CD, so why not do it?

24 Feb 99 - 11:41 AM (#60003)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Bob Schwarer

The more, the better. Even though my attention span may be short, I don't plan on listening to the entire CD in one dose anyway. I pop it in the player in my truck and play as I am going to wherever.

My attention span is so short I forgot where I was going.

Bob S.

24 Feb 99 - 01:23 PM (#60029)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Big Mick

Hi Sandy and friends,

Yes I am still alive and very busy, but I noticed your question as I was zipping through on my way out to save the world from Godless capitialism. ****Grinning like the mischievious Union Organizer that I am****

I am in accordance with the rest of us who are performers of one sort or another. I like more music, as long as it is valid and not filler, rather than less. But I think that is because of my being a musician. I am not sure that the average listener has the same interest level as we do. Unlike my other esteemed friends here, I have never looked at the amount of music as being linked to the cost, I just assumed that the labels were getting what the market would bear, and as time went on the price would come down. My feeling is that 48 minutes is fair, and that longer than that is a value. And I am sensitive to the marketing aspects for the musician. I wonder how my friends here would feel about the full 75 for $18.00 to $20.00?

All the best and I miss regular interaction with you all,

Big Mick Lane

24 Feb 99 - 01:26 PM (#60030)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Joe Offer

Say, Sandy, where'd you get that market information, anyhow? I'm sure glad we could set you straight on this - don't wanna see no 27-minute CD's coming outa Folk-Legacy, no sirree!! (I'm sure that would never be the case).
-Joe Offer-

24 Feb 99 - 01:39 PM (#60033)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Charlie Baum

I suppose one other possibility, if you're going to reissue an LP in CD format, is to take the extra information-carrying capacity of the CD and use it to convey text, photos, and documentary material not on the original LP: analyses, reviews, biographies, updates on the performer's life, PDF versions of the performer's current web page. You can even put on film clips--music videos. The Smithsonian Folkways reissue of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Music added this sort of material. That way, you get all the stuff you would have gotten on the original LP, programmed in the same order, and you still feel like you're getting a lot more when you buy the new fancy format.

--Charlie Baum

24 Feb 99 - 01:53 PM (#60036)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Sandy Paton

I'm a dedicated Scots-American, Joe, conscious of relative values. You'll notice we added a "bonus" track to the re-release of our Archie Fisher recording, The Man With a Rhyme. We had not had room for it on the original LP, but had it in the archives, ready to go, so we used it. On the other hand, our several "Golden Ring" and "New Golden Ring" recordings had no leftover cuts, so they were released as they had originally appeared. Decent length recordings, yes, but no additional material. No complaints so far, either.

One factor being overlooked in this discussion is the cost of royalties that must be added to a longer production with more cuts. This wouldn't effect traditional, public domain material, but has a limiting effect on copyright stuff. Also, when a booklet offering headnotes and lyrics is included, the higher printing bill can cause small labels to say "ouch!" Look at those 24 and 28 page booklets that are stuffed in some of our jewel cases. We even have to pay extra for the insertion, since they're too thick for the automatic devices to handle. Another "ouch."

Hope this explains some of the problems associated with re-releases.

Sandy (short for Alexander) the Scot

24 Feb 99 - 03:58 PM (#60043)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Bill D

Well, I remember the same problem with vinyl...I have a few records that I could not put onto a standard tape! As in 23+ minutes per side!(One Jean Redpath comes to mind)..and I have a few albums that I discovered were only 12-14 minutes per side! I simply assumed that there were varying degrees of generosity in the music business... I know that re-releases, like Sandy says, are a special problem...but there ARE ways to generally offer good value...especially with the higher prices of CD's.

Once, when CD's were fairly new, I asked Bruce Phillips, who was offering his first CD, if the prices were truly reflective of cost, figuring that if anyone would tell me, HE would! He said that, no...the manufacturers 'could' have sold them cheaper, and he,(Bruce) personally, hated to see the price jump, but that he had little control over the final cost...but he did put a generous number of songs on the disk.

When you can buy bargain CD's for $3.98 and even burn your own for a buck or two, you KNOW that you are paying for some artists/producers/manufacturers notion of "what the traffic will bear" in many cases. Yes, I know...some music is being pirated and tapes are being traded and MP3 is eating at profits in some areas, and many artists/producers feel they need to get extra up front to compensate...and fewer songs per disk is one way. But $15-$18 is a LOT of money to me right now, and I do suspect it does not have to be that way!

24 Feb 99 - 04:21 PM (#60049)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Jon W.

ABSOLUTELY doesn't have to be that way, Bill. You saw above where Hank says it costs more to manufacture a cassette than it does a CD (about a dollar in quantity). I spent 15 bucks on my latest CD, same as the first ones I ever bought. Back then I thought the price would drop as the sales volume increased but NOooo! At least the CD I bought last Friday has over 65 minutes of music and a fat booklet. It's Mike Seeger's "Southern Banjo Sounds" and I heartily recommend it to any serious folkies.

24 Feb 99 - 05:58 PM (#60062)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Rick Fielding

Back a few years ago I'm told that an album was what would come out of the studio in a "three hour call". This was the payment schedule for live union musicians. I played on a number of mostly country albums where the producer would do anything not to have to pay the players overtime. Maybe that's how the 12-15 minutes a side started. Many of the "greatest Hits" CDs have ten songs, each no longer than two and a half minutes. They sell cheap, but it ain't enough.

24 Feb 99 - 09:57 PM (#60097)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Sandy Paton

Remember that the label also has to discount deeply to its distributors, who then mark up to sell to dealers, who also have to make a profit in order to stay in business. Without the distributors, we'd be in a pickle, and although it's rare enough that one can find our CDs in shops around the country now, they'd not even bother to special order them were it not for the distributors with whom they deal regularly. They certainly aren't going to bother hunting down a small label and buying direct.

Our only hope is to have enough people asking shopkeepers for our CDs that they in turn will bug our distributors to keep their supplies up to snuff. We have a couple of distributors who appear to order only when they have a special order to fill!

26 Feb 99 - 03:01 PM (#60449)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: jo77

Well I know this is not popular but it IS happening. MP3. I like a lot of other musicians applaud it's arrival. It means for example, when I write a song - before I play it in public=I get ripped off by some clown - I can put my song on the net for free - also free to the listening public. I believe this trend will improve the quality of folk music simply because nobody will be seeing $$$ in it any more. So instead of playing for dough we can play for fun AGAIN. Course that does not mean one cannot sell a MP3 if it gets a lot of hits on a website. This technology cuts out a whole mess of intermediaries. Optic connections are now being installed. On these a 3meg track can be down loaded in seconds rather than 3 minutes as is now the rule. Another point is that instead of buying a whole CD - which I nearly never want - I can get just those tracks I enjoy. :)

26 Feb 99 - 07:14 PM (#60499)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: dick greenhaus

Am I the only one who has distinctly mixed feelings about bonus cuts? I often find that my old vinyl works fine, and I'm effectively stuck paying for a whole cD to get one or two added tracks.

Re MP3- If you eliminate the $, you also eliminate the other good things that the record producer supplies: notes, A&R, back-up musicians and, in the case of a good record producer (ie Folk Legacy), the taste that often makes the recording worth listening to. If you don't want to pay for recordings, don't buy them and listen to amateurs.

26 Feb 99 - 08:22 PM (#60512)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: jo77

Sorry but I disaggree - amateurs! MP3 is here to stay - you can go with the tide or drown in the back water, it is that simple. The packaging is the Internet - the Browser Frame. There is no need for any hardware at all. There is a need for sites which give unbiased evauations of MP3 tracks - and I do think these will become more numerous. The day of the Radio/Store display is over. Welcome to the Internet Dick. :)

26 Feb 99 - 10:54 PM (#60540)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: Will (inactive)

Jo, I think Dick found the internet a few years ago.

Gotta admit, I have my doubts that commercial music production and distribution is about to disappear. The medium might change, but it still takes money to produce the music (not to mention pay for the sites that distribute mp3).

27 Feb 99 - 03:26 PM (#60618)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?
From: j0_77

Hmmm - interesting - Helping a Gospel singer some years ago I found myself providing the technology to record and print a Tape. Oddly 'mastering' was not expensive but printing was. Anyone can now make a master with just a mixer/mics etc and a computer - including effects and sound on sound. Distibution of the recording used to require a shop and perhaps a radio show to popularise the product but now that MP3 is here neither are now required. I do agree with the point Dick made about backup of product but disagree about the need for it in MP3 media. It is really a question of 'popularity'. That may come from local lore etc., There is an ongoing trend on the net towards 'Net Radio' which does provide instant market access. However as I know how international listeners react I doubt the effectiveness of a lot of shows out here xcept PHC which is xcellent. There is one other show on RTE called Ceilidh House which is equally excellent. (- Real Audio you can D/L the show any time goes out every saturday GMT -1 10 PM) Probably the biggest hurdle for the international listener is the number and stupidity of the adverts on some netshows. Raises the very moot question- Why bother with a Radio station- be totally digital. Some are already trying but I've not found any folk stations yet. :)

28 Feb 99 - 09:37 PM (#60803)
Subject: RE: Stingy CD Reissues - why so few cuts?

"Welcome to the Internet" Jo77? I think you may be getting a bit carried away. Ceratinly MP3 is a potential marketing problem for the record companies, but where there's a dollar there's a way, capitalist pigs that they are. But, even in the US I'm sure that the number of people who buy cassettes/CD's is orders of magnitude greater than those who have access to the internet. I know that "ecommerce" is the in buzz word, but amongst my colleagues and acquantancies who all use the internet extensively for research, only one ot two have actually bought anything from a commercial organization via the internet (Book stores seem the most common, and they're not making money). It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I believe that the internet as a communication medium is inimical to commerce, as no matter what you do, there is always someone who will do it better for free, just to make a point. Pure advertising may work, I don't know, I have developed a fairly sensitive "advert filter" over the years, and probably don't qualify as the average "target audience".

The real success, and I think the future of the internet, is still in my opinion its original purpose, to share information, and sites like the 'Cat are leading the field in this area, not dragging behind.

I do agree with you that MP3 and the internet will allow far more people to publish their performances than ever before, but that does not mean everyone, a mixer/ mikes / computer still costs a lot more dosh than most people have to spare even in developed countries; nor is quality (or folk) likely to increase in proportion to the quantity available.

One final point, I would agree with Dick that the information booklet with the LP / cassette / cd is an integral part of our enjoyment not a bolt on extra, and the last thing I want to do at the end of the day spent looking at a scren for work is to stare at it some more when I could have a printed version.

Pete M

19 Jul 99 - 06:08 PM (#97037)
Subject: Investing in CD Reissues
From: Joe Offer

I've been wondering if there is any way we can encourage the reissue of old, classic recordings that we treasure. Is there posssibly a way we can invest in reissues or underwrite them in some way? Folk-Legacy has a number of wonderful recordings that are available only on LP or cassette, and I'd love to see them come out on CD. I'm sure the situation is the same with other labels, even with major-label stuff. How can we help? [Click here for another thread on this]
-Joe Offer-