When you’re around kids, you often find themselves saying what they’d do if they were in charge. There would be no school, no bedtime, unlimited pizza, that sort of thing. Once you grow up those visions look more fanciful, but sometimes that sentiment sticks with you, no matter how much you bury it.
I know I feel that way with the catalogue scene. Every day, every song, every trip to the record store spins off a dozen ideas in my head that I can’t wait to share with anyone who will listen. And the fact that I got to be a part of the process for a short time, even as a mere intern at Universal, was another bunch of cherries on top of life’s rich sundae. Of course, like every pleasure in this world, you want more.
One thing I always wanted to see in my time as an intern was exactly how an idea is born. From my perspective, I’d walk into the office and it would already be go-time on some idea. I’d give anything to someday be in the room when someone – maybe myself, maybe someone else – says, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we did such-and-such a project?” The fact that one can spin a career from that spark is nothing short of mystifying.
And yet it sometimes seems like the map of explored musical territories doesn’t have any blank spots on it. Sometimes it seems like labels have reissued all that can be reissued. But that’s not true at all. For one thing, all the stuff that was once on shelves deserves a spot in the next generation’s record collection. For another, there are still plenty of stones left unturned, waiting for that one person to say, “Hey, what about this?” What’s even better is that projects that once seemed too focused or too niche are perfect for a market fragmented (for better or worse) by so many ideas and tastes.
I always use film scores as an example of this sea change. Nowadays, all it takes is a little push from smaller labels (Intrada, La La Land, Varese, Film Score Monthly) and eventually the big labels and studios will relent. The past few years have given film score fans things like a box set of all the music from the Superman movies, a massive collection of works by Miklos Rosza, deluxe releases of everything from Back to the Future to Batman: The Animated Series and countless others. I’ve seen so many message board patrons discuss how rapidly their “holy grail” list of film scores has shrunk in recent times – and it’s only a matter of time before they shrink further.
I know it’s not a perfect world, even for catalogue types. Yes, it does suck to put down $200+ for mono mixes of The Beatles’ discography. Yes, it is odd when a slightly alternate take is used in place of that one classic groove. And it is certainly painful to hear some records processed to sound the same volume as a current release. But if one retains hope in the face of such obstacles, I think that monumental patience will someday be paid off.
In the spirit of someday having it all, share your thoughts. If you were in charge, how would you change things? More box sets? Access to multitracks? Something else? Let’s hear it.