THE GRAMOPHONE ' London 0ffi« : 58, Frith Street, London, W. 1. Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TRLEPUONR: Regent 7977, 7978.
Parmaxto, Westcent, Londoll.
THE article by Mr. C. S. Davis on another page discusses a problem which is of such vital . importance to the gramophone industry that I do not feel any apology is needed for elaborating some of the points which have been raised. First of all we get a demand for the standardisation of record prices. This, I think , must come presently. The recording companies will have to bring themselves doser into line with book publishers. At present the difference in the prices of records is nominally dependent upon the royalty paid to the artist or artists, but, of course, the royalty paid has very l i t t le to do with the case. What really counts is the advance, which, so far as I can make out, is usually not an advance on royalties as in the case of the writer of books, but a fee which does not necessarily have to be earned out of successful records. I f a publisher pays a novelist five hundred pounds in advance of royalties at, let us say, 20 per cent. on the published price of the book, the writer will not get another penny until he has earned that five hundred. Is this always the case with gramophone royalties? I fancy not. I fancy that the out-bidding of one another by the recording companies for celebrities is not always done by means o£ an advance. I t is true that in many cases the advance paid to an author is only in other words a fee to include him in a publisher 's list, because many authors are paid advances they are never likely to earn. I f the prices of records were standardised and the same royalties as now were still paid to the artists, i t is clear that no recording company could afford to outbTd i ts rivals in the reckless way now in vogue. A novelist l ike Mr. John Galsworthy will get a higher percentage as a royalty and he will get a larger advance, but his novel will be published at the same price as that of the writer who is getting half his percentage and a twentieth of his advance. For the life of me I cannot See why the same method cannot be applied to gramophone records; but probably, as I have said, this standardisation will come about fairly soon, and so I shall waste no more t ime arguil)g about i t .
The next point ,Mr. Davis puts forward from the dealer's point of view is a l imitation of what he calls strictly classical works to not more than twelve a month by each company. But this l imitation would almost be effected if regard were paid to the third point he makes, which is to get rid of unnecessary reduplication of big works, or even of smaller classical works. Yet when we look through the l ist of, classical records which Mr. Davis mentions as having sold comparatively well, we are up against a difficulty. I see that the Philadelphia version of Brahms's First Symphony heads the l ist, and that was published in EnglaJ!d after another complete version by H.M.V. with Abendroth conducting, and I think I am right in saying after the Columbia version under Weingartner. The Parlophone version under Otto Klemperer was published later. Then I find that the H.M.V. version of the Schubert Trout Quintet played by Backhaus and the International String Quartet is mentioned as a good seller, yet two versions of that had already appeared electrically recorded from Columbia and Parlophone, both of which came out complete soon after the old acoustical recordings. Then when I turn to the l ist of best sellers from Columbia I find, at the head the rerecording of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony with Sir Henry Wood conducting, which had already appeared electrically recorded in the H.M.V. and the Parlophone lists. Next I find the Schumann Piano Concerto with Fanny Davies, which had already appeared in the H.M.V. l ist with Cortot as soloist . It may be argued that the Cortot records were 8s. 6d. apiece and the Fanny Davies only 4s. 6d., but this as an argument is counterbalanced by the fact that the H.M.V. Trout Quintet was a best seller at 6s. 6d. after excellent versions of i t had been done by Columbia at the same price and by Parlophone at 4s. 6d. a record., But i t is even'more surprising to find that, after the tremendous success of Schubert's B fiat Trio in the red H.M.V. series with Casals, Thibaud and Cortot, i t is a best seller again when done by Columbia with D'Aranyi, Salmond and Myra Hess in the light-blue series at 6s. 6d. a disc. Another interesting thing I notice about Mr. Davis's l ist of classical best sellers is that there is not a single string quartet or quintet among them, but that chamber music is represented by two piano quintets, a piano trio, Chopin's Nocturnes, and Myra Hess's Bach record, with a piano concerto as well. I shall be interested to hear from Mr. Davis how Beethoven's Archduke Trio, which appears this month in glory of gold and scarlet, will compare as a seller with the