Artificial scarcity

Lately, I’ve been on the look-out for “new” (to my collection) music to add to the library here. This has changed somewhat in direction in the last few months as I start adding songs into the wish-list that I previously would have switched the radio on for.

One pet peeve I have is basically the attitude of the record companies for artists or songs that globally have been “less successful”. These groups are the gate-keepers for licensed copies of the works entrusted in their care, so you really don’t have any option but to try and work with them if you want to remain above-board. That said, they seem intent on making life as difficult as possible.

Sometimes, much later on someone sees the light, and a release is made. The Traveling Wilburys comes to mind here. Volume 1 was released on both CD and LP back in the late 80s. Back around 2001, I was trying to buy a copy of the CD for my mother (who had an illegally made copy)… Rockaway Records Ashgrove had both CD and LP copies. The LP was somewhat pricey but not too bad; about $10 if I recall for a used copy, and there were a few there. The used CD was behind the counter, they wanted $50. I settled for a couple of LP copies instead: at least I’d have a legal license in the form of the LP. A couple of years ago, I managed to get what I was after: Amazon had The Traveling Wilburys Collection for about AU$30, a much better deal.

On the other hand, some other titles do not seem to get the same love. Matt Moffitt was a quite successful lead singer for Matt Finish, but also managed the solo hit “Miss This Tonight” which was featured on his debut album “As Little As A Look“. I managed to find a copy of the LP through World Of Books for $22, but they only had the one copy — that copy now resides with my other records. The used CD seems to sell for anywhere between $120 and $150. Not bad considering it would have sold for $20~$30 back in 1986, sadly Matt Moffitt’s estate won’t see anything for that appreciation in value.

Other one-hit-wonders are a lot easier: Gyan was known for the hit “Wait” — you can get this as a MP3, but a better option in my opinion, is directly from her website. As is often the case with a lot of these artists, what you hear on the radio is often the tip of the iceberg, and her other work is worth a look.

Carol Lloyd’s work in particular seem neigh on impossible to get hold of. Carol Lloyd Band – Mother Was Asleep At The Time can be ordered through Sanity for $33 (20 day lead time) and will get you the two hits “All The Good Things” and “Storm In My Soul”, but if you’re after her earlier work, good luck! The same site has Railroad Gin – A Matter Of Time for the same price and lead time, which includes the title track, but lacks a lot of tracks that Railroad Gin were known for (e.g. “Do Ya Love Me”, “The Academy Rock” and “You Told The World”). Apparently they released a second album, Journey’s End… but at $150, that’s “tell ‘im he’s dreamin'” territory. I’ve not seen this on sites like ZDigital. Some of these apparently appeared on compilations, such as Keep On Rockin’, if you can find them.

Ross Ryan‘s “Blue Chevrolet Ballerina” is another track that’s difficult to get hold of. Apparently it’s on the compilation “Difficult Third”, which I have on order from Amazon, but it’s been a few weeks now and has not even begun to ship. Aztech Records apparently sell it here, so maybe that’s a better option, and I may yet go that way if the Amazon seller doesn’t ship soon.

In the coming months I’ll be compiling a bit of a shopping list, and where possible, I’ll see if I can point out where the songs on this list can be purchased, legally, either as physical media or as lossless digital download. I think we need to send a message that not all of us like being forced to stream things, and they can’t monetise something they don’t make available. I don’t think they are doing their clients any favours by “squatting” on copyrighted works, but they won’t get the message unless we generate demand for it.