is there a market?


Is their a large enough market within the audiophile community and music lovers alike to start a recording company that recorded primarily jazz and classical music the right way?  Is there a chance to capture the great orchestras of america in a totally analog process from start to finish just like they did back in the fifties?  I would think many orchestras would jump at the opportunity to be part of the effort to be recorded like the great orchestras were in the mid 20th century.  Is there still equipment in existence and engineering know how to make this happen?  There certainly is a renewed interest in vinyl and the sound it produces even if it is done digitally.  How about the real thing?
tzh21y
Popular classical orchestras already have contracts and already pressed into vinyl -- definitely not the old vintage 50's way, but works for them in terms of monetary rewards. Not popular classical orchestras won't have large enough market no matter how good they are unless they join with world known solo maestros either pianist or violinist. You can also promote such into audiophile community via magazines and CES, but need lots of funds for advertisements.
With jazz it's a-bit simpler, but getting around with world known performers also not easy. 
 Let's say if you make 500 copies of certain band or orchestra with perfect analog recording the old vintage 50's way sold at $35 each, you won't profit.

Stereophile Magazine has been doing this the last 15 years...
Is it possible- yes, and there are some smallish labels that do this, but a market? I know you aren’t asking because it’s about making money, but you know what they say about how to make a small fortune in the record biz? (Start with a large one). The main issue is who will buy, and how you will distribute, I think. And, along the way, it costs some money. Not trying to discourage you. Go for it. Some of the stuff I like and that is really well recorded is very simple- Chris Whitley’s Dirt Floor was recorded on a two track in a barn, and Classic Records released it on vinyl. (It’s scarce because I don’t think it was a big seller for Classic and getting a new copy- some still exist- isn’t so easy. But, great record, and I can’t believe the production costs were very high).
And you are right. There are some absolutely superb musicians who would jump into your arms -- they need the money. In Austin, top tier musicians work for almost nothing- big names, too. (At least among other musicians). The plight of big orchestras these days, at least in the States, is pretty sad. There are union issues too, with orchestras. (Those can be dealt with). So, you have to be pretty committed, and spend some bread or better, someone else’s money. But, you are asking the right question, i think: Is there a market? And that question can only be answered by looking at how much you are prepared to lose, rather than how much you might make. If that makes any sense.
It is something I have felt passionate about I guess.  I would not be in it to make money but to actually be a part of something great that would last beyond my years.  It would be a lot of work but could be a labor of love so to speak.  Just the thought of something new done all analog by a great orchestra like the Cleveland orchestra for example would be quite exillirating for everyone who loves great music.  I guess it would involve finding people who feel just as passionate.  Nothing sounds like a pure analog recording especially great orchestras, except for maybe the real thing.
Start a "Go Fund Me" or Kickstarter campaign.

Not a chance.  Trying to do this would be pouring money into a bottomless pit. 

There are record labels already making high quality analog and digital jazz and classical recodings largely as a labor of love.  You would be much better off supporting these labels than trying to compete with them.

Which labels are these?  I have not heard of anyone making classical records that sound as good as the ones made in the 50s and 60s.  What orchestras?  The best orchestras?  I have not seen anything out there as a late that is not digital and done by the very best engineers.  I am talking about Kenneth Wilkinson type of engineer with those type of results
Anything engineered by Peter McGrath (associated with Wilson Audio and also works independently).

Well excuse me. I was just trying to dissuade you from bankrupting yourself and anyone who joins you. You clearly have no idea what recording the best orchestras with the best 1950s technology and then pressing the albums using the best equipment from the 50s and maintaining the highest quality standards would cost.

From what I have read about the state of the jazz and classical music market, your chances of making a profit are pretty close to nil. Many new classical recordings sell in the hundreds or low thousands of copies. But please don’t let me stop you from living your dream. Gather as much money as you can and jump right in.

There are too many audiophile record labels for me to list, but here is a link to a list entitled, " A Short Survey Of Audiophile Record Labels" that contains many record labels already trying to provide audiophiles with the best sound possible:

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/a-short-survey-of-audiophile-record-labels-tas-197-1/

There are others.

Arguably the closest to this sort of thing these days are folks like Yarlung who are recording and issuing on analog tape, selling at $200 per reel 
folkfreak- Yarlung was one of the labels I was thinking of in my previous post-they also do vinyl releases- none appear to be full orchestras, but more small scale stuff, though some classical, e.g. Janaki String Trio. I had heard the tape courtesy of Myles Astor and bought the record because it was interesting. 
It's been a long while, but Lyrita did a great job some years ago with a 20th Century British classical catalog. The classical market has probably narrowed since then. But it was a nice change from some of the usual warhorses.  That catalog was far more than just the Malcolm Arnold record that HP touted. They were well made records (Decca or Nimbus pressed as I recall). 

Actually the Sasha Cooke "If You Love for Beauty" is with a full orchestra, in this case the orchestra from the Colburn Conservatory which is one way of getting quality players at a reasonable price I presume
I live in Chicago, and I do get the chance to tape a few jazz trios on occasion, but no one who has a record deal will allow that anymore.  I love your idea, and I'd be "all in" if one could make it work.  Stereophile has made some pretty good analog recordings over the years, as has record label ECM.  Sears sound recording in New York is another studio/label that does them right.  It is very frustrating to hear so much quality music being "compressed to death" in the recording process.  Most all of the classical music that I listen too are on Lp's pre 1966 for this very reason.  The dynamic range that these old jazz and classical records have is simply incredible. 

Great post, wonderful idea!
N.
It just seems like this might be the right time to do something like this.  I see turntables everywhere, even on commercials.  Maybe part of the problem with digital recordings of orchestras is that there is something emotionally missing from the sound.  The great orchestras should be very much open to anything that would promote them positively.  I just was on the Decca website.  They are reissuing the living presence recordings AGAIN.  Why?  Why not make recordings that are just as good, maybe even better, and allow the the orchestras of today to be appreciated as they should sound.  Decca above all others knows how good all analog records are.
Cost. Master in the can is cheaper than new, from scratch production particularly if large production and party issuing record already owns the rights in the master and doesn't even have to pay for that licensing fee. 
This will never happen.

There is such a demand for these recordings that they just keep reissuing them.  Yet the classical music industry is not doing  well.  Go figure.  Geez I guess we will just reissue some living stereos and old Decca's, those are the ones people want after all, screw the current orchestras.  I mean how much would it really cost decca to do it.  They have to still have some of the equipment and know how.  If not, I am sure their are Decca engineers that did this that are still with us that could do it again.  Somebody could make these great orchestras sound great again.  Brass and strings just do not cut it in digital period.
TZ- it’s a cost factor, and also, from a market/risk standpoint, reissuing a known warhorse is a safer bet than creating something new (apart from the cost risk- did I mention risk and cost?) :) Same complaint could be made about many reissues on the pop/rock or even the jazz fronts too, though I gather folks are pretty happy will some of the jazz reissues of blue note by music matters. First question someone behind the desk making a decision would ask is-- what’s the market? Same question you are asking.
Ping me and we can talk. I sent you a PM a couple days ago.
best,
bill hart
I understand, there is risk with everything.  I also know that digital is better than it was but it will never sound like analog ever, especially with unamplified instruments.  For music that demands critical listening, analog is the only way to go.  Jazz, classical, bluegrass and other genres of music demand critical listening not just background entertainment.  What better time to take this risk.  I would imagine the great orchestras would jump at the opportunity to be recorded in all analog because they know what that does to strings, cymbals, I could go on and on.  Its called reality, like being at the venue and experiencing music as it sounds true to life.  The only thing is it would truly have to be done by the best of the best, like a Kenneth Wilkinson to ensure it was done perfectly to really get attention.  
I don't believe there are any studio quality analog multi-track tape recorders being made today, haven't been for quite some time, and the parts for older units are becoming very difficult to find.
Recordings in the 50's and 60's were made on tape. remastered, they can sound really good, but the actual 1950's pressings are not that good.
many of these tapes still exist and are available on CD, a much better format. (Supex, Signet xk50, Ariston, Audire, B&W). 
Dan you are missing the point.  Some folks, myself included, do not want it in digital. We want ALL analog. Apparently you don't agree but we believe that it is more realistic that way. There is always something lost in the A to D conversion. There is a reason why the most sought after, expensive albums are an all analog chain. 
Analog- it isn’t just that, either. The early stuff was done really simply- two track recording of a jazz combo or whatever. There is something very alive about some of those recordings, before we had complex boards, multi-miking, outboard processing, etc. An immediacy that makes the recording sing in a way that doesn’t sound as processed, even when arguably in the analog domain. By the ’70s, at least with studio recordings, all kinds of stuff was going on in the recording, mixing and post-production process. Some of it winds up sounding spectacular, but so many variables, and so much to get wrong.
For what it’s worth, I’ve always considered myself an ’analog only’ guy and don’t want to turn this into the A v D thing (which gets beaten to death) but some of the recordings I have on vinyl of newer stuff never saw tape to begin with and sound amazing. Granted, it is more prog rock, like the Steve Wilson stuff, but there have been occasions- RLJones Girl at Her Volcano was an early digital (in process and in large part I think in recording) and sounds very good (particularly given how early it is, and how bad her roughly contemporaneous Pirates sounded); there is a live Billy Joel record, Songs in the Attic produced by the late, great Phil Ramone that was recorded digitally-it is pretty impressive. I’m not trying to sell you on digital, but only pointing out that one of the reasons the older records sound good isn’t just the analog part in my estimation, it’s the not being messed with/confusion/multimiked/mixed/processed to death that is also killing the "life" in some of these things as the technology progressed. Otherwise, you’re preachin’ as they say.
PS: Dan- re old pressings and quality-  I don’t think the pressings were all so bad- in fact, some of the 6 eyes or other early jazz are great, as were some of the classical and pop on other labels,  but condition is always an issue with a record that old in my experience.
best,
bill hart
There is so much that goes into a great recording.  Simpler is better, but there is a lot to know.  For example, the Cleveland orchestra was recorded by Decca, Kenneth Wilkinson at the mason hall in Cleveland and not severance hall.  Why?  Because he knew what he wanted to hear in an acoustic sense.  He knew right where to place the microphones.  He knew where he wanted the musicians to be with respect to the microphones in a very detailed sense.  Its not just about the recording path, but how to actually record in let's say analog, and really make it sound as great as analog can be.  How many even know how to do this?  What to listen for and so on.  Some know right away, like Wilkinson.
"We'll fix it in the mix."  :)
There is so much that goes into a great recording.

I found the article at this link very interesting on how they used to do the recordings.   

http://www.polymathperspective.com/?p=2484

It focuses on the recording techniques for orchestras, and also provides some good info on what is going on behind the scenes. Like the competition that was between Decca and EMI.  

couple excerpts

“It’s not well known,” says Mike, “but there were at least seven or eight different tree formations with a variety of microphone types, and there were two philosophies of using a tree. One was the Roy Wallace philosophy which was the tree by itself, which produced a wonderful three-dimensional image; the second came from Kenneth Wilkinson who came to stereo in ’58 and decided that the tree needed help from outriggers; focusing on violins on the left, cellos on the right. Eventually their techniques blended – Wallace was using outriggers, as were other technicians.”


“Compression was something used in the pop world to get maximum dB on the tape for AM radio,” says Mike. “Decca didn’t use compression for classical recording but there was gain riding. The idea was that a loud movement would peak at zero, but the soft movements also had to come close to match. We’re not talking about ferocious gain riding, just little tweaks."