Where does Rubellan Remasters license their releases from?
I license every one of my releases from the official rights owners. While most of my catalog has been licensed from Universal, I have licensed from Warner and Sony in the past. As of late 2021, Sony (USA) rarely allow third party licensing any longer and Warner only license select artists with U.S. signed contracts, anything that would require a foreign office clearance, meaning most titles I would be interested in, will not be considered.
When did Rubellan Remasters start?
I started as a reissue label in 2018, but the name Rubellan Remasters was first published in 2015 on the CD and LP reissue of the early 80's band Suburban Lawns on the Futurismo label. The name was originally launched as a mastering facility, providing remastering services for the occasional independent label before branching out into my own reissues. Prior to 2015, any projects I remastered, dating back to 2006, were simply under my own name, Scott Davies.
Is starting a reissue label easy?
No! It took years to finally get going and that was primarily because finding contacts within the labels was very challenging. Even the indie labels I had provided remastering services to wouldn't provide any info. It seems there's definitely a competitive vibe among reissue labels. Once a proper contact is found within a label, it takes persistence to be taken seriously. One major label shared with me that they get a large amount of contact from prospective clients who eventually do not follow through, so it's up to us to prove we are the real deal. Although, once proven that doesn't necessarily mean that response time is improved. Many times, the only way I find out if there's any progress or clearance on a project is by following up. These label contacts seem to be very busy people who likely deal with large amounts of clients.
How many people run Rubellan Remasters?
One. As the sole proprietor of the label, I handle every aspect of it: All communications with the major labels; artwork design, restoration and layout; master tape selection and audio remastering; all communications and setup with the product manufacturers; processing, packing and shipping all direct customer orders; sending stock to the distributor; website design and maintenance; all customer communications and newsletters, etc, etc. I believe Rubellan Remasters is the only label that has been this type of all-in-one structure. This is all in addition to having a full time day job... for now.
Does Rubellan Remasters use original master tapes?
Yes, whenever the masters are available from the rights owners they will either provide us a brand new flat high resolution digital transfer of the master tapes, or provide us a previously archived flat transfer of the masters.
Does Rubellan Remasters use needle drops (mastering from vinyl) like some of the other reissue labels?
Unlike some of the reissue labels that focus more on quantity than quality, I will ONLY use vinyl as a source if masters cannot be located. But Rubellan Remasters has built a reputation over the years as THE BEST when having to resort to vinyl as a source. Unlike those noisy, distorted transfers you may have heard on other releases, anything from vinyl on one of my releases will likely be indistinguishable from master material. This is only possible because I take the necessary time per track to provide the finest results.
What is Rubellan Remasters' opinion on very loud (or brickwalled) remastering?
I hate it!! There's been so many recordings destroyed by over-loud mastering that greatly reduces or eliminates the original dynamic range in music. The result is what is called "ear fatigue", which means you can't listen to too much of a brickwalled recording before wanting to turn it off because your brain is interpreting it as the equivalent of the music screaming at you. If you look at a speaker with dynamic music playing, the woofer will bounce with each drum beat. With a brickwalled recording, the speaker just quivers because there is little to no difference between the loud and soft elements. I balance volume and dynamic range to provide a result that satisfies audiophiles and casual listeners alike. If you are one of the few who judges the 'quality' of a remaster by how loud it is compared to another, then move along, there's nothing for you here.
I bought some of your reissues on Amazon, eBay or another website. Are those the best places to get them?
Actually, not really. The best place to buy these reissues is right here on the website. By buying direct you are ensuring I will receive a larger portion of your payment and that will help fund future releases. Even if you purchase from our listings on other websites, there are still additional percentages taken from those orders. Aside from our direct listings on other sales websites, any orders not directly fulfilled by us means that once that payment is processed and eventually makes its way to us months later, sometimes the various fees mean we barely break even on the sale. This is why new releases are initially only available on this website for the first month or two before they are put into wider distribution, unless a title sells out before making it to distribution. But while direct orders are always appreciated, I understand some customers have a budget and may find a better deal elsewhere. And in the end any sale is good as long as it gets the music into the hands of someone who appreciates it.
What does "Remastering" mean?
In the true context of the word, it means improving on the original source material. Most master tapes when transferred flat sound rather dull. This could be due to their age or the type of mix that was done back when it was originally recorded. Remastering for my label addresses every song independently to determine what is lacking or heavy-handed that needs careful adjusting. This could be a touch of bass, a reduction in certain mid-range frequencies, or a modification to the high end. I also go further if necessary, which can include very careful reduction of analog tape hiss or repairs to the occasional tape fluctuation or drop out that may be present. I listen to every second of every song multiple times, and in different settings, before finalizing anything for production.
Why do you only release your CD's in jewel case packaging instead of Digipak or LP replica sleeves?
Jewel cases have stood the test of time as a way to keep inserts and booklets safe and in good condition. If damaged, jewel cases are easily replaceable. Digipak, or any cardboard-type packaging, begins to wear out almost immediately. And like LP sleeves, once the damage is done there's no fixing it. CD trays can be cracked and broken, and are not designed to be easily replaceable. For packaging in which the CD is inserted into an opening or envelope, those have been proven to scratch CD's sometimes as immediate as the first removal. I believe jewel cases are the most reliable packaging to help keep the product in top condition for years to come.
How long does it take to get a reissue released?
That varies greatly but it's never quickly. Best case scenario, 6 months to a year. It's a multi-step process that involves making the request to the label, then waiting for approval, price quotes, legal and licensing clearance, master tape availability and transfer, artwork creation and clearance, and then production of the final product. Various things can cause further delay, such as difficulty of the label locating an artists contract or having final clearance required by overseas offices since that's where the artist was originally signed.
Do you offer your remastered reissues on streaming and download services?
If you ever want to irritate me, ask me this question. The primary reason is because digital platforms have decimated the reissue market, and it's up to third party labels like Rubellan Remasters to license these albums for physical release to keep them alive. Major labels are primarily interested in rehashing big sellers and classic rock dinosaurs. Without physical products being licensed, most of the artists I reissue, or any that would be considered cult or obscure, would never have their catalog touched again. Hidden treasures, such as previously unreleased material or mixes that have never been released on CD or digital, would never see the light of day. By supporting physical media, you are keeping this option alive. If sales become such that it's no longer economically feasible to continue, third party labels will dry up and you will be left with the 157th reissue of The Beatles catalog and little else.
Additionally, the majors do not license to third parties for download and streaming, they retain the rights for themselves. But if they did provide that option, I wouldn't go near it. Most remastered albums released on Rubellan Remasters do not replace existing editions on digital platforms, so they often remain exclusive to these reissues, which is also a help. A couple that have appeared on digital were those that hadn't previously been on the platform, and even then they don't include some or all of the bonus tracks. The excuse of "But most cars don't have a CD player anymore" is invalid because practically any electronics department or store caries replacement dashboard stereos with CD players. And if you don't want to go that far you can still get a cheap external player and connect it to your car with one of the various connection options. The other misguided theory of "They don't really make CD players anymore" is very wrong. What a lot of people don't realize is that if you own a DVD or Bluray player, it is also a CD player. Dedicated CD players, both portable and component, are still manufactured and some can even be found in common chain stores. I understand people like the convenience of digital but it is the enemy of the reissue market.
Why are your LP reissues only on colored vinyl?
I find black vinyl boring, and always prefer some sort of color option to keep the product fun and interesting. Audiophile purists don't like this because they claim black vinyl is better, but they seem to overlook the fact that vinyl is not naturally black, meaning black vinyl is also colored vinyl. The vinyl reissues I release are not focusing on the audiophile market, and their standards are why I have The Vinyl Policy in place on this website. For my own audiophile experience, I will always choose a well mastered CD.
Do you offer pre-orders for your releases?
Previously, the answer was no. I would just post a release for sale as soon as I received it and start processing orders. But as awareness of the label has grown and new releases can receive several hundred orders within the first day, I have started implementing a pre-order period of around 2-3 weeks. During this time, packages will gradually be processed and shipped with the goal of having all orders made during the pre-order period out the door by the set release date.
Do the artists get paid for your reissues?
Fees are paid for the master and publishing rights for the material released. How that money gets distributed is not in the licensees hands, it's often dependent on the artists contract and/or standing with the label. For example, if an artist has an outstanding balance with the label, such as their album didn't sell enough to recoup the label's advance all those years ago, it's possible the funds may just be applied to their balance. For those with no outstanding balance, the amount paid out is based on the artists contract. Third party labels have no knowledge regarding the specifics of the contracts or percentages, we pay the required fees for the license and that's as far as our involvement goes. But even with smaller volume reissues, the artist will likely get more money from our physical reissue than from a year of streaming.
Do you ever get denied on requests or are there reissues that started but didn't get released?
Unfortunately, yes. Some labels have lists of artists that just aren't available for 3rd party licensing. Other denials have come from the rights no longer being held by the label, or another label has already requested the release. As of late 2021, the ratio of denials over clearances has considerably increased. The only reason given was that my genre and era of interest is becoming harder to license for reissue, and to expect denials to continue.
As to the second part of the question, I've had several in-progress reissues that had to be cancelled because even though I had been given preliminary approval, another reissue label (with a more established relationship with the licensing label) swooped in and snatched the titles from under me. The resulting products were substandard from my viewpoint and I don't currently attempt to license further titles from that label.
Do you try to get the artists involved in your releases, and if so are they often happy to work with you?
That also varies greatly. I have reached out to artists that have happily responded willing to assist, have not responded, or responded in very rude and disinterested manners. I've scrapped a couple of tentative releases when the artists, who owned their material, disregarded that I was financing the entire project and going to pay them a fee as well, and promptly attempted to dictate very early on, even before any agreements were made. After assessing the situation, I cancelled the projects. So yeah, it's great if you have artist involvement as long as it doesn't become a power struggle.
You've reissued several artists that were in the list of those who had their masters destroyed in the Universal fire of 2008. How is that possible?
I can tell you first hand that story was grossly overblown. Just because an artist was on the list doesn't mean everything was destroyed. Masters were stored in various locations, so in some cases it may have only been a small handful of masters by an artist that were affected. But even with that, there is not only a single master tape. Often times, there are several copies, such as production masters, safety copies, etc., that were in different locations. Yes, the original master is considered to be the ideal source, but that's not to say only originals were destroyed. I have been able to source absolute original tapes for some of the artists on that list. And if a master for a single edit or 12" mix may not be available domestically, there's a good chance another tape will be in an overseas archive. Yes, the loss was tragic but it did not wipe out entire catalogs of the artists that Rubellan Remasters has been reissuing.
How do you choose what albums to reissue?
It really comes down to personal interest. For the amount of time, money and frustration involved in each release, it only seems feasible to commit the effort on something I'd like to see in my own collection. That being said, some titles of interest are given priority based on sales potential but we have yet to request a reissue we don't really like.
How many copies of your releases are manufactured?
It depends on the title but generally 1000-1500 are initially pressed up and then further pressings are requested based on demand and stock levels. The deal with the majors allows me to manufacture additional copies for a term of approximately 3 years.
What does "Rubellan" mean?
Oh, this one is always fun to answer. It basically comes down to an inside joke that dates from a party in the early 90's, but to try to explain it with any cohesion would take paragraphs and still likely cause confusion. But I will say this much, the alien in our label logo is a direct reference to that in-joke. It is called Ruby, it's from the planet Rubella, which makes it Rubellan. See, I told you it would be confusing. The original outer space theme that I had saturating this website was to depict the cheesy sci-fi element, but it seemed to be lost on most people and they just thought it was an odd choice, so I took it down a notch.