When is Concentus Recording Another CD?
By Alto-diva Maggie Symington
This is a question we occasionally hear from singers and fans alike, since our holiday CD—Make We Joy—is now six years old. Unfortunately, it comes down to logistics and economics.
Concentus currently has 20 singing members, but because of work/travel schedules and illnesses, it is rare that all are present at any one rehearsal. It seems inconceivable that we’d all be available for the several sessions it would take to make a recording. Why does it take more than one session, you might ask? Because the probability of successfully recording a song in one take, and a full album in 2.5 hours, is not high, even for a professional group! A separate logistical hurdle is securing the recording rights for all the songs—something that ought to be easier than it is.
When Concentus performs a public concert, we are singing from legally purchased scores, unless the music is in the public domain, which our repertoire rarely is. Ever notice those pesky copyright notices on printed material? They are there to protect the livelihood of creators. Not every musical group is as fastidious as we are (when a song we wanted to purchase wasn’t available from any publisher, despite being advertised as such and despite one actually taking our money, we tried to borrow it from another group that had recently performed it, but were unsuccessful, I suspect because they also weren’t able to purchase the music!). Purchasing the physical music isn’t the end, though; there are also performance licensing fees that we pay to the agencies that pay royalties to the composers. Each quarter, we report our concert programs to two different agencies, and they assess fees based on the repertoire and the venue size (that’s right, the size of the venue, NOT the size of the audience!).
All of that still doesn’t give us the right to record a song. For that we need additional permission from the composers. Some permissions are easily obtained; others require enormous effort. Finally, we need the permission of any instrumentalists who will be featured on the recording. And, of course, all of these permissions cost money, as well. That means there is a significant outlay of funds even before hiring someone to record the group and to produce the actual CDs. What if we dispensed with physical CDs and went straight to MP3s to sell online? That requires separate licensing, of course…
So unfortunately, there is probably no new CD in our near future. The good news is we have plenty of live performances coming up where you can experience the rich and varied repertoire of Concentus in person. We hope to see you at one!