Recording Contracts: Such a Big Deal?

Chant Cafe noted the latest group of Benedictine religious being coopted by Big Music. Yet another record company horns in on the Gregorian chant/religious music specialty market.

Pardon my cynicism about the whole notion of a “record contract,” but this is the 21st century. So sure: a record company like Decca can promote the heck out of this music and sell a million units. But the Catholic blogging universe could also get behind this and completely cut out the suits. I’d assume there might be less to be given to charity. But I know there would be a whole lot less for executives. Why so doubtful, you might ask me? I remember this classic article (language advisory) on what your average rock band can expect from signing a contract. St Joseph is a great consultant on spiritual matters, but Steve Albini might have steered them in a different direction.

But what could the Nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de L’Annonciation have done instead? All they would need is a laptop computer, some basic software, and a choral microphone. Record the chants live at liturgy, or in a chapel after a practice session. The whole notion of an album as a unit of music purchase and listening is obsolete. Record a piece of music, and if you want to sell it, make it available online. Even if the sisters here didn’t want to set up a MySpace page, they could have volunteers set up a web site and have it all available for download. For people who insist on listening with cd’s, it’s a relatively easy matter to arrange for those to be produced. Don’t need a record company there, either.

Let’s leave off with a bit of nostalgia from the 60′s, sans guitar:

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Recording Contracts: Such a Big Deal?

  1. Todd, please pardon my calling the obvious question, but, why the cynicism? Is it really skin off anyone’s nose?

  2. Jason says:

    I think you´ve already said exactly what the difference is: a company like Decca can market better and sell more albums. I´ve had friends, talenting musicians, self-record and promote their own albums, but they really don´t sell as many, even with a powerful blogsphere behind them.

    The BBC article on this hints that the nuns aren´t doing it for money, but to give listeners some peace. If that´s so, then they´ll reach more listeners with a company like Decca.

  3. Michael says:

    I read an interview the other day by the head man of Naxos and was stunned to find out that the number of sales by download has now slowed to only a percent or two over the previous year’s.

    I would not be so quick to write off CD’s. Not everything new is so wonderful as to replace the old, nor should it. With that kind of thinking, TV should have replaced radio and cable TV should have replaced broadcast TV.

    Classical CD sales are holding their own, so the nuns made a wise choice.

  4. Todd says:

    Ah! So in other words, sales by download may be approaching the apex of the shark, as it were. So much for my snark.

    Personal disclosure: I prefer cd’s in the car and radio and online listening at home. Classical, on the main, of course.

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