Here’s a video from Amoeba’s long-running “What’s In My Bag” series featuring Ty Segall. Variety reports that Amoeba Music, the California record store chain, has digitized thousands of rare and out-of-print records, and they’re now selling them in the “Vinyl Vaults” section of their revamped website.
When a sale is made, Amoeba puts the money into an escrow account. Owner Jim Henderson told Variety that he’s more than willing to work with whoever owns the rights to the music. “If (someone says), ‘That’s mine,’ well, OK, we can either take it down or we’ll sell it, and you’ve got this nice (digital) master. We’ll sell it, we’ll promote it; let’s sign a contract.”
Many of the records are given remastered upgrades, and Amoeba are adding around 10 or 15 new releases to the website every day. Each track is offered as either an .MP3 ($0.78), .M4A ($1.18), or .WAV ($1.58) file. Variety reports that the new website was estimated to cost the company $11 million and employed around 200 people.
Here’s how Henderson describes their offerings: “What you see now is the lost-between-the-cracks, underappreciated, undervalued (music) from dead labels, (obscure) artists, stuff that we really stand behind. It’s mostly in the rock genre, with a lot of jazz, a lot of blues, some country, some spoken word. There are some oddities for sure.”
While there are definitely familiar names in the vaults, like Louis Armstrong, there are also several obscure and unknown artists. Definitely spend some time browsing and listening to previews, because of course you want to hear what the Humphries Brothers’ “St. Louis Tickle” sounds like.
Update: A previous version of this story falsely gave the impression that many releases in the Vinyl Vaults section were sold without the proper rights. This is only the case for a few unfound and unsigned artists.