John Farrell expressed his dissatisfaction with QRS's new roll policy
in MMD 990212, particularly their low output of new jazz / hot piano
I used to think much the same, but I also know just how aggravated the
folks at QRS are by such an attitude! On reflection, I have to agree
with them -- they know their market, they know what sells, and they
produce rolls that sell. Business is sparse at best without rampant
uncommercialism. They aren't a public service!
QRS apparently have a mailing list of many tens of thousands, mostly
owners of 1950s onwards players, and that list is maintained to active
accounts only. The enthusiast / specialist market is perhaps 3000 to
5000 worldwide (any better guesses?). And most enthusiasts don't seem
to buy new rolls!
So, when criticising QRS for not adding new minority interest rolls,
we really ought to consider the market for the rolls. After all, if
it's not going to sell at the very least several hundred copies it's
not worth the cost of mastering and marketing. Is a hot piano roll
going to be more saleable than an arrangement of the latest hit film?
It's sad to admit it, and quite wrong musically, but in my heart of
hearts I know that Titanic will outsell Lem Fowler!
While at the AMICA convention last year we had the opportunity to look
round QRS, and see their stock at first had. I purchased some fairly
recent rolls - their two roll set of the show 'Chicago' is beautifully
done. Also very nice new hand-played rolls celebrity of 'Misty' and
'Handful of keys'. The best is the most unexpected - 'Pee Wee's Theme'
(from the TV show). There must be loads of great stuff there I know
I strongly recommend that everyone get the QRS catalogue and have a
good look through, listen to rolls in other collections, and buy some!
Make your own mind up.
Of course, the Tonnesens spoil us all with their hard-to-match
production standard. And John with all his work on making wonderful
new rolls. The only problem is how to afford (and store) them all!