Over coffee in the Barbican Centre recently, Chaz Jenkins, general manager of LSO Live, laid out the saga.
The push toward self-recording came two years ago, when the orchestra's diminishing classical recording schedule couldn't be ignored.
"If you look at the LSO's schedules in the '80s and right back through its history, it has had constant recording sessions.A typical day would be morning and afternoon at Abbey Road [studios], and an evening doing a concert.Quite often, the concerts would be done here, and they'd do the same concert at Abbey Road.Come the '90s, the number of recordings went down and down as companies came to re-evaluate classical recordings in the current market."
says, "In the LSO, technically, I'm an employee of the musicians."
Starting in the late '90s, Gillinson looked at the same history that Jenkins
cites, and decided that the orchestra should take matters into its own hands.
, one sign of success came quickly."Within a couple of months, we started getting approached by distributors," he
says."We only had three titles out by then."At present, the albums are available in retail stores in 10 countries.
Neither Gillinson nor Jenkins
will reveal specifics on sales, profit or expenses on any of their titles.Jenkins
says that LSO Live
's goals are to sell 10,000 to 20,000 copies in the first nine months of a release.According to a British music industry trade paper, "Les Troyens" sold "well above the 30,000 mark" in that period.Are the musicians getting royalties?Not yet, says Jenkins
, but by July, when the orchestra's fiscal year ends, he
expects that to change.
"At the end of the day," Jenkins
says, "a classical recording can still be valid 30 years later.So it's a good long-term investment.But the major companies these days can't afford to think like that.It's not surprising that the major record companies are re-evaluating what their classical arms are doing."
So what's an orchestra to do?Stateside, the Philadelphia Orchestra is paying keen attention to the LSO Live