Music goes missing more often than you think. Great recordings go out of commercial circulation and never get onto digital platforms. This is why labels like LA’s Real Gone reissue lost gems and important curiosities from past decades, bringing back musical moments for dedicated fans. And they have turned to Loudr to manage their complex mechanical licensing.
Photo by James Stamler on Unsplash
The process of finding the next release is part deliberation, part serendipity. Gordon Anderson, the Real Gone co-founder who’s been in the reissue label business for decades, has gotten release ideas from exquisite live bootlegs (Anderson begged the band in question, Tower of Power, to license it, and the quality of the concert convinced the skeptical artists to say yes) and record aficionado requests.
After watching the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, Anderson found a solo record by knock-out singer Lisa Fischer who was featured in the film. He called up his contact at the label behind the out-of-print album to see if it was available for reissue. It was, and “it is one of our best selling releases,” Anderson notes.
Bringing rightsholders around to agree to a reissue can be straightforward, or it can be a process that requires “patience and persistence.” “Every license is different and every licensor has different rules,” Anderson explains. “The majors have theirs, then there are the indie rightsholders or companies that have accumulated labels like Sun Records. Often we’re dealing with artist estates. They have their particular challenges.”
Anderson has learned to roll with the punches when it comes to securing the agreement of rightsholders, but he and Real Gone knew they could not manage the mechanicals side of their licensing obligations with music publishers and songwriters on their own. They have relied on Loudr, which specializes in mechanicals, data matching, and other related sides of music licensing for the underlying copyrighted songs, to administer this side of their business.
“When we put together a release, we may be compiling tracks from different sources, or have different artists interpreting songs over an extended period of time,” says Anderson. “Twenty tracks can often mean twenty different publishers. Loudr sorts through all that. By the nature of our business, we need someone to handle this and if we did it in house, it would be a full-time job.”
Loudr has created licensing services that help musicians and labels, focusing on the needs of growing market niches (YouTube-first artists who often use covers to engage their audiences, as well as video game music). “We’ve gained extensive experience managing complex licensing questions for independent operators, and that lets us support a wide range of businesses at scale and at a very reasonable price point,” notes Loudr CEO Chris Crawford. “It’s great to license these releases from Real Gone that present pleasant challenges from a rights perspective and let labels get excellent music back on the market.”