The Real Gone Interview, Part 1: Gordon Anderson
For many years, Collectors Choice Music was the go-to source for music fans wanting CD reissues of music from the past. Be it something straightforward, music that enjoyed mega-success on original release – like, say, the 3CD set of Paul Revere and the Raiders single a- and b-sides – or something esoteric and obscure (a Clint Eastwood collection of cowboy songs), as the leading mail-order reissue catalog, CCM provided low-cost reissues with solid quality, careful remastering, and little fuss.
While the marketing arm of CCM remains in operation, the Collectors Choice Music label ceased operations in 2010. Fortunately for hardcore music nerds (this writer proudly included), seventeen-year CCM head Gordon Anderson formed a new label in partnership with fellow music industry veteran Gabby Castellana. Launched in 2011, Real Gone Music picks up the mantle right where CCM left off.
Anderson chuckles heartily when I observe that the sort of albums that Real Gone puts out are a wildly eclectic lot, just a list of things some collector-nerds at the label would like to see. “You kinda nailed it,” he admits. During his time at CCM, Anderson got “a lot of customer requests, which I preserved through the years. A lot of [those titles] ended up on Collectors Choice.” Once he left CCM and started Real Gone, he “spent about a month going through the old customer requests, analyzing if [a potential reissue] made sense.”
“There is,” Anderson asserts, “a populist element to Real Gone that is much like Collectors Choice. The difference being that, in the old days, CCM was serving two masters: trying to find stuff in the catalog that the audience wanted to buy, and going retail. Now, of course, for Real Gone, the retail aspect is more important.” Anderson believes that his nearly two decades of experience in the realm of what he calls “collector fandom” gives him the skills needed to make good choices for RGM releases. His connections with what he self-effacingly calls his fellow “collector nerds” help steer him in the right direction as well: “I get pitched by independent producers from all walks of musical expertise and knowledge, and the label reflects that, too.” He responds to those pitches by challenging the producer to make the case for their suggestion. “Sometimes they make the bar, sometimes they don’t.”
As is only fitting, Anderson’s own musical interests do figure into the mix as well. “My own expertise is very broad, but not always very deep,” he quips. “But there are certain artists that I just know are going to work [for reissues].” He cites a New Christy Minstrels compilation (A Retrospective: 1962-1970, due out June 26 on RGM). “I just know from prior experience that that’s going to do okay.”
He admits that some release projects lean more in a labor-of-love direction. “There are some that I entertain, that I do knowing the commercial potential is limited, but I feel there’s something there worth hearing.” Anderson mentions the self-titled singer/songwriter album by former Music Machine leader T.S. Bonniwell, and a rock interpretation of Handel‘s Messiah. “I didn’t have any illusions about that one,” he laughs dryly. “It’s very much a niche, extreme cult item.”
The costs associated with securing masters and rights, coupled with the availability of the material itself, affect the likelihood of a title seeing reissue on Real Gone Music. A combination of experience, gut and market research are all brought to bear on the decision process, too. “I don’t think I’m betraying any deep secret when I say that you’ve got to go online and see what things are selling for,” Anderson says. If vinyl copies of a long out-of-print album are changing hands for hundreds of dollars, that’s clearly a mark in favor of CD reissue. “That doesn’t always guarantee success – nor does it always predict failure – but in general, it’s a good indication. You know: supply and demand.”
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