Burn On Demand

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One benefit of Napster, may it rest in piece, was all the long-out-of-print music it made available again, allowing listeners to find recordings that simply weren't available in stores. Now the same Internet that allowed file-sharing services like Napster to flourish is giving record companies the means to bring that old music back onto the market. The Vox Music Group, which has published around 5,000 recordings since the 1940s, will now make custom CDs of its out-of-print music for any consumer willing to pony up $20 for a single disc, $30 for a double, or $40 for a three-CD set.

Traditionally, small pressings haven't been very cost-effective for large record companies, while custom pressings have been downright unthinkable. "But we've been able to eliminate the middleman by dealing directly with the listener through the Internet," Vox's Gene Gaudette tells the Washington Post. "We've bought some high-level technology—including top-of-the-line computers and CD burners—and we are now able to make single copies available from our offices on Long Island, without ever putting the records on sale in brick-and-mortar stores. This way, even if only 20 or 30 people in the world want one of our records, our expenses will still be covered and the record will be out there."

Here's hoping more companies will soon follow Vox's lead. There's gold in them thar archives.

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