Sunday, December 24, 2006

About Marston

I don't recall whether I have ever discussed Marston Records here. It's Ward Marston's own record label.

Ward is a legendary guy in the world of old recordings - he is a genius at transferring old recordings (pre-1950, generally) to CD. Actually, Ward's first transfers may have been from 78 to LP, but whatever. He does a lot of work for Naxos and VAI; he was responsible for many of the best sets on the now-defunct Romophone label. He is also a genius at FINDING rare recordings and persuading the owners to allow him to release them.

The third area where he's a genius is in figuring out a sustainable model for his own record label. The recording industry is a mess; unlike most people, I blame DVDs, not piracy, but who knows.

Marston Records works on a subscription basis. At the end of every year, Ward announces what he plans to produce in the coming year; if enough people sign up to buy a particular set, it goes through. If a particular set is sold out, arrangements have been made for on-demand production by a third-party company, so you can always get a set you missed. There are also Preferred Customers, meaning Marston Records has your credit card number and sends you EVERYTHING. If you don't want everything, you can be a Piano or Vocal Preferred Customer.

I've been a Preferred Customer for a few years. I'm not equally interested in every release, but I'll take them all, because it's so important to support Ward's work. And there are way, way more hits than misses, in my book: Litvinne, Supervia, Bolet, Vezzani, Gadski, Levy, and on and on and on.

If you're interested in historic recordings, especially acoustic-era vocal recordings, check out Marston Records. And please read the previous posting on this blog.

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