6 October 2017

NYCGB's record label is 2 years old this month - so where are all the records?

Two years ago, we decided that we were no longer going to release NYCGB’s recordings as CDs. Apart from the fact that most of our members don’t own a CD player, digital distribution offered us the opportunity to overcome an old challenge. With our choirs meeting just twice a year on residential courses, and with concert preparation taking priority during that time, timetabling recording sessions was tricky. It could take more than a year to assemble the 70 minutes of music required to decently fill an album. Then you had to add months for editing, mastering, production and distribution…

Looking at digital platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, on the other hand, we saw that there was nothing stopping us from sending recordings out track by track as singles. It could all happen so much more quickly, and members would be able to hear the results of their hard work while the memories were still relatively fresh. The international nature of digital distribution was another obvious attraction: when you release a recording via Spotify or Apple Music, it automatically appears in most countries where those services are available.

So we decided to go for it, and release one track (occasionally two) on the first Friday of each month. With twelve tracks in hand, the first year’s release schedule was taken care of, and even a modest recording session could top us up for another quarter.

Two years later, we’ve released 30 tracks by a truly diverse range of composers and arrangers. Six recordings are world premieres, and many more are rarities. And the mysterious tides of the internet mean that they’re all finding an (occasionally considerable) audience. The current top 5 are listed below.

The best thing about our new record label isn’t the release schedule, or even the numbers of listens, but the musical freedom. Released from the constraints of album programming, which is typically thematic or composer-led, we can give NYCGB singers the experience of recording pretty much anything. Would we ever have found an album on which to include William Mathias’ beautiful ‘A May Magnificat’ or Jaakko Mäntyjärvi's monumental ‘Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae’, for example? Very probably not. The same goes for concert lollipops -  things like Ward Swingle’s ‘Country Dances’ or Steve Friedman’s simply brilliant arrangement of ‘Spider-Man’.

Our thanks go out to everyone who’s helped us so far, including engineers and producers Joanna Forbes-L’Estrange, David Jones, Adrian Peacock, James Rose, John Rutter, Dave Rowell and Tony Faulkner, cover artists Sam Garson and Ash Spurr, and everybody at Music Productions Ltd and The Orchard.

Here’s to the next two years and 24 tracks!