Published: September 07, 2015

Era of World’s recordings ends

The first World’s record, the 1977 competition that the now defunct Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band won.

After 37 years of physical commercial recordings of the World Pipe Band Championships, the era appears to have come to an end with Klub Records Ltd. (KRL), confirming that neither a CD nor a DVD will be made of this year’s competition.

The first commercially available World’s record was in 1977, with an LP featuring the performances of the top prize winners.

“CD sales over the last few years have declined, and with the BBC showing live coverage of the World’s this does have an impact on CD/DVD sales,” said Isobel Waugh, managing director of Klub Records, the company that has made and distributed the recordings for almost 20 years.

As digital downloads have steadily replaced physical copies of music for the last decade, so too now has one-time streamed audio gradually replaced downloaded copies as a means of enjoying music.

ISA Music, the Glasgow-based music distribution and publishing company that incorporates the once-dominant Lismor label for the piping and drumming category, held reproduction rights to the World Pipe Band Championships for many years before the license was sold to Klub in the early 1990s. ISA has since switched to being digital distributors, and works with KRL and most of the Scottish record companies, linking them to major distributors, and carrying about 40,000 tracks in its repertoire.

The 2014 World’s recording, possibly the last physical commercial product from the event.

“It’s very different and very efficient but quite soul-less,” said Ronnie Simpson, head of ISA Music, referring to the new music business model. “We know that sales were dropping off and we think mainly because of the Simon Fraser University vs. Field Marshal Montgomery two-[band] race for the last decade. It’s ironic that [KRL] decided to call it a day this year, just as Shotts came rampaging back to form – and that’s a ‘seller’ every time.”

It is not known whether content from the World Pipe Band Championships will be made available via digital downloads or streaming.

The RSPBA has not yet responded to a request for comment.

BBC Scotland has broadcast the Grade 1 event at the World Pipe Band Championships via live streaming since 2009, for several years limiting the show to its UK audience. The publicly-funded BBC is supported through every UK taxpayer paying a license for broadcasting. Starting in 2011 the streamed broadcast was made available worldwide.

The BBC has also packaged the recordings into radio and television programs for more than four decades, each time securing the rights from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and Glasgow Life, the organizers of the event.

Whether the rights have been sold or given away, details of the license deal have never been disclosed by either the BBC or the RSPBA. The BBC has said that it has no obligation to disclose the terms, citing a clause in its charter.

KRL continues to make and distribute piping and drumming CDs, the latest being ScottishPower Pipe Band’s Live.

The BBC is under contiual financial pressure, and said recently that it will “gut” services. Though financial details are not known, based on the many tractor-trailors, multiple high-definition cameras, complex rigging and staffing of the event, the live stream of the World Pipe Band Championships involves a very large investment by the organization.

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