Surround Albums Production Costs

QuadraphonicQuad

Help Support QuadraphonicQuad:

MrSmithers

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Jan 24, 2018
Messages
1,377
Location
UK 🇬🇧
Hi there,

Thanks for all the useful info I have read on QQ.

I was just wondering what the actual costs are involved to mix an album for a surround release?!

Have read that high costs might sometimes be an inhibitor for surround releases as record companies won’t make any money out of it. Or there’s not enough demand to justify the costs.

But what are those costs?

I guess to produce a new surround mix from existing master tapes would be the most expensive? You need to find a producer/mixer/engineer/studio to do the actual work. I’m going to take a complete stab in the dark and say maybe $150,000?! This is based on no knowledge - hence the post! Obviously there are many variables - just take a look at this list on the most expensive albums produced…

1. Invincible – Michael Jackson: £31.6 million
2. Chinese Democracy – Guns N’ Roses: £10 million
3. Hysteria – Def Leppard: £8 million
4. …In the Life of Chris Gaines – Garth Brooks: £5.6 million
5. Untouchables – Korn: £3 million
6. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West: £2.5 million
7. The Black Album – Metallica: £1.4 million
8. One Way Ticket To Hell… and Back – The Darkness: £1.3 million
9. Tusk – Fleetwood Mac: £1.08 million
10. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club – The Beatles: £416,000

I guess you also have to factor in the costs to distribute (Blu Ray, SACD, DVDA, DTS, DD).

One of the factors given for the recent Fleetwood Mac S/T album only being released on DD DVD is being cheaper licensing costs. But I don’t think they can be that high? Maybe $1 per disc? Or do you have to pay a hefty fee up front to use a format?

Back in the day I remember SACD/DVDA discs being only a couple of £/$ more expensive then the RBCD equivalent. So they can’t be that high! Plus I presume Flac downloads are essentially free? On Acoustic Sounds you can get stereo DSD downloads for $25, the same as 192khz flac.

I read this recent article about ‘The Greatest Hits’ release no longer being necessary in the streaming age.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42701623

It makes total sense but what I found interesting was that record companies are licensing their stuff out. Hence we are getting the expensive box set. But we have Dutton Vocalion doing recent (excellent) quad stuff. What are the (cost) barriers to them or anyone else surveying the polls here and releasing other stuff? If it’s a transfer from an existing mix maybe that cost goes down to $50,000? Or maybe it’s a lot higher?!

Any knowledge/opinions on this would be great!
 

popshop

600 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
692
Location
Denver, CO
"Start inhalin', Waylon!" :smokin Every situation is different but I'd say generally the issue is lack of perceived (or real) demand. As quoted in that article, the majors live in a different world than everyone else, in terms of price and overhead.
I would guess that Beatles' Love, Dark Side of Moon, or Tusk, for example, would be some of the more expensive 5.1 mixes to produce because of extra time spent finding tapes, carefully recreating mixes, appeasing various band members/managers etc. When you're spending thousands per day and it takes months you can get into the figure that you mentioned. On the flipside, someone like Bruce Soord (or me, you) can do it for much much less, by mixing and authoring everything. The Gentle Giant releases have been cleverly produced by bartering mixing for authoring.
Process is simple, but has variables: first, the legal right to do it, then multitrack tapes have be found, then digitized. Then the most time is spent mixing and testing. Bluray authoring is more time consuming and expensive than a DVD. There are two fees/licenses totaling $1k (USD) to pay for bluray, none for DVD. With my releases, I purchased SurCode DTS encoder and that covers the licensing. It's $250. DD 5.1 is $700. As far as I know, that's all you need to do. I hope! haha. Maybe the majors pay more to use the encoder/logo? Manufacturing is roughly $1.20 per disc for bluray, $0.60 for DVD, plus the cost of the case/jacket/cover/art. Huge variable there. Those Jethro Tull books must cost double or triple what a digipak would be. It's not cheap certainly, but it can be if you're just including a DVD with an existing package.
FLAC or lossy streaming seem like potential answers for the surround future. Maybe ambisonics, maybe continued physical media (thanks to Rhino), maybe bio-implants? :banana:
 

bmoura

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Messages
9,519
Location
Redwood City, CA
Hi there,

Thanks for all the useful info I have read on QQ.

I was just wondering what the actual costs are involved to mix an album for a surround release?!

Have read that high costs might sometimes be an inhibitor for surround releases as record companies won’t make any money out of it. Or there’s not enough demand to justify the costs.

But what are those costs?

The most expensive cost is likely the cost to license an album from the recording artist and record label.
Assuming they are open to licensing the album at all.

Those fixed costs (reissue companies pay an advance plus the cost to make X number of discs) apply regardless of whether a reissue sells - or it doesn't.
So selecting the right album and artist is very important when a reissue company decides whether to license an album or not.
 

popshop

600 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
692
Location
Denver, CO
The most expensive cost is likely the cost to license an album from the recording artist and record label.
Assuming they are open to licensing the album at all.

Those fixed costs (reissue companies pay an advance plus the cost to make X number of discs) apply regardless of whether a reissue sells - or it doesn't.
So selecting the right album and artist is very important when a reissue company decides whether to license an album or not.
Indeed! It's silly I forgot that as it's my current problem. I also forgot to mention paying royalties to the artist/songwriter. Other stuff too, likely!

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
 

quadtrade

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 3, 2002
Messages
1,517
Location
Ugene
Which means you usually get a right to produce a fixed number of copies, so the math has to fit the product available to sell, and like Brian says, if it sells. When we did DTS we only initially licensed 5000 copies at around 3 bucks apiece. Each company(polygram, sony, etc) had a slightly different price, but all close. I think they added some to the run when they did the large cases, but most DTS releases had a 5000 copy run. Not sure about the DTS releases which came later, but i doubt they printed many more than that. The entertainment division was running it's course and had fullfilled it's mission by that time.


The most expensive cost is likely the cost to license an album from the recording artist and record label.
Assuming they are open to licensing the album at all.

Those fixed costs (reissue companies pay an advance plus the cost to make X number of discs) apply regardless of whether a reissue sells - or it doesn't.
So selecting the right album and artist is very important when a reissue company decides whether to license an album or not.
 

MrSmithers

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Jan 24, 2018
Messages
1,377
Location
UK 🇬🇧
Cheers for the info. From what I take though it’s not the actual production costs that are that prohibitive. More the licensing costs/record company apathy stopping more mainstream releases?

It’s bizarre in this day and age that should be the case. When the sacd/DVDA “war” happened the relevant companies must have spent many x millions developing the technology. I don’t understand why in that regard Sony/Colombia/CBS would be reluctant to re-release sacd/dsd releases or rhino etc (dvda) when they have gone out of print? Surely they own all the rights and can just sell them again as is for extra profit?

It just seems bizarre that record companies and artists (apart from a select few) aren’t seeing the potential of hi res + surround!
 

quadtrade

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 3, 2002
Messages
1,517
Location
Ugene
Not sure it is reluctant, we have a company in England doing this right now. It is a bit just corporate usa. When we got into the Sony catalog it was thru special releases department, which was designed to sell repackaged material after it had been out already. We had a fellow who was a fan of our desires. He was disposed of during the several years of biz affairs with Sony, which changed the relationship. Something that happens all the times at these big companies, restructure. I think sometimes it is just having someone willing to fork out the dough and time to do it, which is not often. Then it is being lucky and getting someone to approve in these megacompanies. A lot of uncertainty these days, most of these fellows are looking over their back all the time. Tough to get the pathway cleared. And some artists have rights to sort out. It is a lot of work to get it done.

Cheers for the info. From what I take though it’s not the actual production costs that are that prohibitive. More the licensing costs/record company apathy stopping more mainstream releases?

It’s bizarre in this day and age that should be the case. When the sacd/DVDA “war” happened the relevant companies must have spent many x millions developing the technology. I don’t understand why in that regard Sony/Colombia/CBS would be reluctant to re-release sacd/dsd releases or rhino etc (dvda) when they have gone out of print? Surely they own all the rights and can just sell them again as is for extra profit?

It just seems bizarre that record companies and artists (apart from a select few) aren’t seeing the potential of hi res + surround!
 

bmoura

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Messages
9,519
Location
Redwood City, CA
It just seems bizarre that record companies and artists (apart from a select few) aren’t seeing the potential of hi res + surround!

Part of the issue is that an artist (and record company) can earn much more licensing one song for a TV show or movie than an album reissue.
Just how the economics work these days.
 

bossfan

600 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
639
Location
Canada
King Crimson Lizard. I have not picked it up yet but will on the weekend.
 

MrSmithers

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Jan 24, 2018
Messages
1,377
Location
UK 🇬🇧
Part of the issue is that an artist (and record company) can earn much more licensing one song for a TV show or movie than an album reissue.
Just how the economics work these days.

That does make sense. In the streaming age you can make more money from a catchy hook used in an advert from one song then from the entire album it would appear on!

Sad that some acts nowadays aren't even bothering to make an album at all. Perhaps because of streaming?!

If I were a musician I would want people to hear my 'art' in the best possible way. Why bother with a good producer/mastering engineer if it's just going to be a loud stereo brickwalled release?!

Why can't they have different versions? One for Radio, Streaming, CD, Vinyl, MCH? My point being is it won't cost that much in 'production' costs to explore?
 

Clint Eastwood

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jun 11, 2014
Messages
12,609
Location
Int Space Station
That does make sense. In the streaming age you can make more money from a catchy hook used in an advert from one song then from the entire album it would appear on!

Sad that some acts nowadays aren't even bothering to make an album at all. Perhaps because of streaming?!

If I were an musician I would want people to hear my 'art' in the best possible way. Why bother with a good producer/mastering engineer if it's just going to be a loud stereo brickwalled release?!

Why can't they have different versions? One for Radio, Streaming, CD, Vinyl, MCH? My point being is it won't cost that much in 'production' costs to explore?


It's because we(the surround community)represent such a tiny segment of the consumer market that it really makes no sense for the company to cater to our wishes..
 

popshop

600 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
692
Location
Denver, CO
Also many bands do create different masters for digital, CD, and vinyl. To create a different MCH mix is a whole different beast though.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
 
Top