Alma Mater

Vinyl.RecordCindy Wooden’s CNS feature yesterday give some details on Pope Benedict’s recording with Geffen. Personally, I wouldn’t blink if the pope had scored big money on this. We pretty much know he’s not a man interested in material profit for himself. And the Vatican sacristy doesn’t need an upgrade in vestments or gild.

Some details on what Vatican radio and television will get on this:

The recordings of the pope’s voice are the property of Vatican Radio, which for a fee of 25,000 euros (about $37,600) gave the Paulines permission to use 9 minutes and 49 seconds of the pope’s voice, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, head of Vatican Radio.

The Jesuit, who also directs the Vatican Television Center, said the Vatican also made six of its video clips of the pope available to the project for a fee of 6,580 euros (about $9,900) for use during “Alma Mater” concerts and in publicity material.

Let’s do some math. Most cd’s bought in stores as a result of direct promotion by corporations are sold for $12 to $20. My thought is that worldwide, the pope’s disc will sell ten million minimum, for a nine-figure gross. The London Symphony plays and the Philharmonic Academy of Rome sings. They’re all professionals, but do you think for a two or three day gig for a hundred-plus is going to cost greatly compared to $100M? I’m thinking at most $200 an hour for at most 200 pros. Fifteen hours of work gives you $600K to put on the ledger line.

This project won’t need the millions a producer needs to convince you Britney Spears is worth buying into. My opinion on this deal is already part of official bloggerology. What I didn’t know then is that the Pauline Fathers’ Multimedia San Paolo organization are co-producers along with Geffen. So a church agency will reap some “colossal” profit from this, too.

Even after agreeing to the project, the Vatican reserved the right to approve how the pope’s voice and image were used and stipulated that Geffen was to donate a portion of its profits to charity, he said.

Asked why Vatican Radio would allow a commercial enterprise to use the pope’s voice for such a modest fee, Father Lombardi said the radio is a service aimed at spreading the pope’s message, not making money. “But if Universal and the Paulines make colossal profits and want to make a donation out of gratitude to the pope or to Vatican Radio, I wouldn’t refuse it,” he said.

Digital downloads have overtaken cd’s. The time for a project like this would have been thirty years ago, or even twenty. Today’s project would be to bypass music corporations entirely, and have Vatican radio and tv produce this for direct distribution to people’s iThings and whatnot.

Anyway, the project’s all done and the pope has a copy already. He eneded up singing Regain Coeli: do you approve? The rest of us peasants will have to wait till the end of November for our copies.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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