Alan Sparhawk Discusses Fight To Get Low’s Masters Back From UMG
In the two months since Low’s Alan Sparhawk suffered the loss of his wife and bandmate Mimi Parker, he has remained active both online and off, playing shows with his other band DAMIEN and keeping up a steady stream of communication via Twitter. This week his focus has been on the battle to regain control of the master recordings for Low’s early discography from Universal Music Group, one of the Russian nesting dolls that contains the band’s former label Vernon Yard.
Replying to a request for a repress of Low’s 1994 debut album I Could Live In Hope on Wednesday, Sparhawk responded, “@UMG won’t give the rights back. We’ve asked. Original advance was tiny, did 3 1/2 records with them that they won’t give back to us after 25+ years now. They keep licensing to crappy reissue companies and we see nothing. Meanwhile, we can’t tour anymore and tour was all our $.” When prompted to get a lawyer, Sparhawk wrote, “Been doing that for several years now. We get the run-around and end up nowhere.”
One user suggested a partnership with Numero Group, the reissue label that has been focused on archival ’90s indie rock releases lately, because Low’s account has posted about Numero several times. Sparhawk’s answer to that one: “Love them. They are doing great work. Blondie is bigger. Smaller groups like us don’t have the pull to renegotiate. We are hardly worth sending the intern to the warehouse for. Maybe a little public pressure with change their mind. We don’t know what else to do.”
The tweets have been amplified by peers such as Damon Krakowski of Galaxie 500 and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans, two of the more prominent voices advocating for musicians’ rights online, among many other supporters of Low’s cause. We’ve reached out to UMG for comment and will update this post if they respond.
Thank you, friends. If this doesn’t work, it’s safe to say we’ll know where @umg stands. The system will crumble – they have a chance here to adjust and be useful to the future or fade to dust, clinging to their pieces of silver.
Love you all. Peace on earth.
— LOW (@lowtheband) January 5, 2023