If you are reading this, you may have clicked on one of the red "OOP" buttons from a CD page where the "buy now" button would normally be. This means the title is out of print. Following is an explanation of why some of our titles have gone out of print.
Listeners may assume that most of our CDs are limited editions as some sort of diabolical marketing plan to exploit collectors’ anxieties about missing out on goodies. Well, only in part. Soundtrack collecting is a niche market and it does help sales to limit the pressings. But a legal reason is paramount.
Almost all of our CDs feature performances made by Hollywood union musicians. Contractually, these musicians are due “re-use” (aka “new-use”) fees if their recordings made for a movie or TV show are reused on a CD (or any other media). These fees are manageable for major record companies that do current CDs of mainstream movies, but prohibitive for “vintage” releases on our label—which, in all honesty, would sell less than 3,000 units whether they were limited or not.
For decades, high re-use fees prevented many soundtrack albums from being released at all (and limited those that were to 30 minutes in length). However, in the early 1990s the studios negotiated with the union, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), a vastly reduced rate to cover historical recordings—those from the 1930s through (generally) the 1980s. While still expensive, the historical rates are proportional to our business plans—but to ensure the players would not be taken advantage of, the fees are only applicable for pressings up to 3,000 units. So that is why our releases are typically limited. (CDs of scores recorded in England, like Eye of the Devil, or Italy, like Guns for San Sebastian, do not need to be limited.)
In some cases, our CDs have sold out their 3,000-unit runs: The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Knight Rider are among the most popular. In those cases, because of the “cap” in the historical AFM rate, we could not press more copies even if we wanted to without busting our bank account.
In one case since we started our Classics line in 1998 did we take the trouble, and spend the money, to negotiate a second pressing: The Omega Man. This came about because we decided simply to pay the full-cost re-use fees (which were expensive), and we had the connections still active with Warner Bros. to negotiate a second pressing. Fortunately, The Omega Man was recorded with a mid-sized orchestra (the fees are calculated per player) so the cost was managable—barely. The Towering Inferno, due to its larger orchestra, would not be affordable, nor would the Poseidon Adventure CD (with its three scores; it also contains The Paper Chase and Conrack) or Knight Rider (with its multiple TV episodes). In addition, some of the studio relationships we used to make our out-of-print CDs like The Towering Inferno and Knight Rider are no longer active for us.
From time to time, used copies of our out-of-print titles become available at Screen Archives Entertainment and those links will be displayed on our website. We regret that some of our CDs have become expensive collector’s items but hopefully this column explains why we have had no choice...which recalls a line of dialogue in The Empire Strikes Back where Chewbacca is choking Lando Calrissian, but hopefully there are no wookiee collectors reading this.