The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

God only knows why the Labels are so greedy…

Fans who check iTunes every Tuesday morning for new releases may have been surprised to see fresh titles from The Beatles (The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963) and The Beach Boys (The Big Beat 1963) this week. New collections and re-releases from both acts, especially The Beatles, are usually heralded with huge press campaigns…

The clue lies in the fact that both albums are from 1963. According to European Union copyright law, if a recording isn’t released within 50 years of being recorded, ownership of that recording reverts back from the record label into the hands of the artist. By making these recordings commercially available, even without promotion, the labels are retaining the rights to these recordings (for another 20 years, according to the law).

This, no doubt, is a tense situation between the artists and their labels. Surely the surviving Beatles and Beach Boys would like to get the rights to any of their recordings. That would allow them to sell the recordings on their own, or license the sale of the recordings through other companies(and, indeed, Paul McCartney recently took his solo catalog from Capitol to Concord when the rights to those albums reverted to him, something Capitol surely does not want to see happen with even a single Beatles master recording). On the other hand, labels generally won’t try to make a big commercial splash with a box set by an artist whom they have a working relationship with, as is the case with Capitol and both the Beatles and the Beach Boys: they still actively promote both catalogs…

Given that these releases seem to be coming out strictly to abide by a European law, why have the Beatles and Beach Boys collections come out in the U.S. while Dylan’s are only available in Europe? Well, Dylan’s 1962 collection sold on eBay for as much as $1500. Perhaps the Beatles don’t want their fans spending that kind of money on recordings they originally deemed unworthy of albums in the first place, or the record label may not want the bad publicity that comes with creating such a limited item. Universal told Radio.com “no comment” with regards to the matter…

What’s on your mind, tonite…?