The once controversial Wolfgang's Vault, which has amassed the largest collection of licensed streaming live recordings on the Internet, is about to make a treasure trove of those concerts available for downloading.
Beginning Nov. 3, the site will add more than 1,000 titles from 919 artists to the approximately 500 that are currently available for purchase from the site's Concert Vault section, Bill Sagan, CEO and founder of Wolfgang's Vault LLC and its parent company, Norton LLC, tells Billboard.com. The additions will include more than 160 Grateful Dead concerts as well as titles from artists such as Santana, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Chicago, Miles Davis, Dolly Parton, Merle Travis and many others.
Leading up to the Nov. 3 "Cracking the Vault Day" blowout, Wolfgang's Vault -- which recently logged its 100 millionth streamed show -- is offering a small amount of new shows twice weekly. The site just put up a Grateful Dead concerts (from May 15, 1970 at the Fillmore East in New York City); future releases include Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt (Oct. 2), Hall & Oates and Boz Scaggs (Oct. 6), Santana and Chicago (Oct. 9), Lou Reed (Oct. 13), Miles Davis, Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra (Oct. 16), Twisted Sister and the Ramones (Oct. 20), the Byrds, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings (Oct. 23), Cheap Trick (Oct. 27) and Mountain (Oct. 30). Newly streaming shows from Dylan and Pink Floyd will also become available on Oct. 30.
The download prices will run $7.98 and $8.98 for MP3s and $11.98 and $12.98 for Flac recordings. Wolfgang's vault will also introduce a $48 annual membership which includes a $50 gift certificate, discounts on recordings and memorabilia and unlimited higher-end 192k streaming.
Sagan says that the new rash of downloads are "the result of negotiating agreements with performers and record labels that not only acknowledge our ownership of this material but gives us rights to exploit it" in a variety of formats, including ringtones and satellite radio. Sagan estimates that through the acquisition of a dozen archives -- including Bill Graham Presents, the King Biscuit Flower Hour, Silver Eagle and the Festival Network -- since its inception in 2002, Wolfgang's Vault has amassed nearly 10,000 live shows, of which about 3,200 are currently streaming on the site.
The agreements including royalty payments in addition to the mechanical royalties the company routinely pays to publishers.
"The objective is that just about everything we stream we'll be able to download," Sagan says. "When we hit Nov. 3, more than half the concerts...will be available for download. By Christmas or slightly after Christmas we'll be closer to three-quarters." Sagan also hopes to begin making video footage the company has acquired available on the site in the near future.
There are some holdouts to the downloading plan. Sagan says negotiations are continuing with big names such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the Who and Dire Straits, and he's hopeful agreements will be reached with most of those in the near future.
In addition to the Concert Vault, Wolfgang's Vault also sells memorabilia, operates a Vault Radio network, displays music photography and publishes an online version of Crawdaddy magazine. It also operates what MacWorld magazine named the best all-around iPhone App earlier this year. The company's Daytrotter.com site, meanwhile, offers recordings by new, mostly independent bands.