Colin H on Artistic afterlife
The afterlife of an artist or writer is an intriguing subject. In the wake of a disagreement I had with Bert Jansch’s estate, which I now view as closed, I’ve been pondering the subject in a general way. This isn’t any kind of open letter to the people who look after Bert’s estate – it’s simply a rumination on the changing nature of artistic work beyond the life of the artist, and the increasing ability in the social media/instant-opinion age of the fans of that artist to make their views on the way that artist’s estate is being run heard. It’s a conversation starter, really – feel free to add your thoughts.
One can go on to other forums, for instance, and find endless discussion and controversy about the activities and perceived motivations of the Jimi Hendrix estate, the Prince estate, the David Bowie estate… There’ll be a nod to Bert’s legacy later, but this is a general ramble through territory that was once shadowy but now, I believe, is so increasingly the subject of widespread opinion and discussion that an artist’s estate would perhaps – and I say only perhaps, because those with the responsibility of an estate will have their own lives to lead and cannot be expected to be in daily contact with fans – be wise to find ways to engage in some capacity with the artist’s fan base directly and to set out its goals transparently.
In a meaningful sense, the public output of any such figure is ‘owned’ by those to whom the work means something. It is a part of their life and is impervious to outside interference or direction.
In a purely legal sense, rights of ownership to commercially exploit those works for a finite period of time will reside with one or more parties. In a writer’s case, publishing houses may own this or that book, while the writer’s estate will own certain other rights – the right to sanction, for instance, annotated or revised editions of the works owned by the publisher, where new commentary material is added or unpublished original author material drawn upon. In happy examples, an estate and a publisher will work together on projects such as these – the JRR Tolkien (d.1973) case being a good one. That estate, led until very recently by Tolkien’s son Christopher, has sanctioned superb scholars/devotees such as Verlyn Flieger, Douglas Anderson and the team of Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull to edit/annotate new editions of various works in addition to supporting original works of commentary and biographical research by those and one or two other scholars. For his own part, Christopher – as one of the few people in the world able to decipher his father’s often rushed handwriting – has given the world, via long-term Tolkien publishing house Harper Collins (no relation!), a series of fascinating posthumously assembled works with accompanying erudite commentary. As a literary executor, he has served the fan community – and his father’s reputation – incredibly well by not only maintaining original works in publication but in adding to the volume of works available, often at great personal labour.
On the other hand, some estates – like that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (d. 1930) – become disreputable. The late Adrian Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur’s son, was a man of poor repute in his handling of the estate, putting profit ahead of the bigger picture, and affecting TV and film adaptations within his lifetime as a result. In the literary sphere, it has only been very recently – via a US lawsuit in 2013–14 – that an author confirmed that the Conan Doyle Estate has been enriching itself for years on a false basis, claiming the character of Holmes was still in copyright and that anyone wishing to use the character was obliged to pay them several thousand pounds for the privilege. That lawsuit was taken by Leslie S. Klinger, who had already contributed massively to Conan Doyle appreciation with his stunning ‘New Annotated Sherlock Holmes’ editions in 2004. That litigation was effectively the fan community ‘winning’ against an estate that was simply enriching itself and not in any way actively promoting the long dead author’s works.
Those who love a writer’s or musician’s works will continue to enjoy them, and continue to share their enthusiasms with fellow admirers and those as yet unfamiliar with those works, regardless of the activities of any literary or musical executor. In extreme cases, an estate can – for whatever reason – limit, constrain or frustrate ongoing appreciation – particularly, for example, scholarly appreciation (limiting or denying scholars access to manuscripts, etc.). The James Joyce estate, for instance, has somehow managed to extend normal copyrights and frustrated scholars for decades.
Moving into the modern era, there has been years of public infighting between members of the late Frank Zappa’s family – widow, various children – about his legacy. One son is out there performing Frank’s works for new audiences and the faithful while other siblings try to stop him, as far as I can see. There has also been controversy over certain doctored releases of old recordings, I believe. Various members of the family periodically issue public pronouncements against the others. Even someone uninterested in Frank Zappa (like me…) cannot help but be aware of this tawdry, protracted spat. I’ve no idea if it’s about money or control-freakery or what. If I were a Frank Zappa fan, I’d just play the old records, collect the bootlegs and ignore the lot of them. The failures of subsequent generations can hardly be laid at the door of the late artist, and unless said artist is posthumously tainted in some way, like Michael Jackson, that artist’s work and stature will remain of ongoing value to devotees.
In a sense, ‘the work’ takes on a life of its own. The core work of the artist/writer – everything issued in their lifetime (and, if fans are lucky, further work made accessible posthumously) – will have a particular place in the hearts of those it touched. That relationship with the work should be immune to pretty much all external influences. It is utterly independent of any estate activities or any kind of policing. Devotees and estate will be two distinct circles in a Venn diagram – they *should* overlap in terms of shared interests and goals, but how far they overlap will depend on many factors.
An estate is not a political party that devotees of the late artist must join, with policies they must adhere to and flags they must fly. An estate is simply a residual business entity. Assuming that ongoing commercial activities are its aim, an estate is generally more dependent on the fanbase than the fanbase is on the estate. A fan may be grateful for new product or new editions, or at least for the option of purchasing such, but the estate’s whole purpose – whether it be to make money or to foster ongoing appreciation of the work for its own sake, or a combination of both – depends on its products (usually issued via a collaborating publishing entity rather than directly) having a demand. That demand can be fostered by goodwill and good relations between the estate and the core audience; or the estate can choose to operate in the shadows and presume that the audience will take care of itself. I make no judgement about either approach.
Occasionally, an estate can simply become dormant, which means that it is not in the position to actively foster ongoing appreciation of the works, or an ongoing market for them. A few years ago, for example, I tracked down the estate of the late Freeman Wills Crofts (1879–1957), a ‘golden age’ British crime writer – coincidentally, from Belfast, where I live – whose books I enjoy. Until recently, his books had been largely out of print for many years, and his rarer titles remain very pricey second-hand (three figures). Copyright in his works had devolved to the Society of Authors, which simply acted as a non-proactive gatekeeper. I was interested in publishing one long out of print title. The Society felt that my lack of experience in that area was against me, but we had a civil chat about it (if I’d gone off and published something else, they’d have looked favourably at another application). As it transpired, in the past couple of years, some of Crofts’ works have appeared via other publishers – one being the British Library Crime Classics series, edited by Martin Edwards, a crime writer himself and a huge fan, like me, of ‘golden age’ writers. So, in the end, a fan did indeed do his bit to bring new appreciation to the long dead artist!
A partial contemporary of Crofts, George Bellairs (1902–82), in the British crime writing field has, in contrast, a proactive estate. It prints information in the back of current reprints of Bellairs’ work inviting readers to sign up to its mailing list at their George Bellairs’ website, with the promise of occasional newsletters and exclusive material. The website is currently offering sign-ups a free book. The stated goals of the estate are to promote the author’s work. I have no idea the extent to which profit is a factor or who indeed benefits from the estate (a relative, presumably), but Bellairs made very little money in his lifetime as a hobby author (he had an appalling book deal with bookseller Christina Foyle) and I personally don’t begrudge his heirs a fair reward for his efforts and for theirs.
In terms of Bert Jansch’s musical legacy, it is a jigsaw of ownership. BMG Rights own the Transatlantic canon (1965–71), whoever bought Virgin (who had themselves bought Charisma) own the three 1974–77 albums, and I imagine the estate own a smattering of titles directly. ‘Leather Launderette’ (1989), the only Bert album to remain unissued on CD, is owned by the estate of a controversial businessman who purchased the Black Crow catalogue. If that man’s estate wanted to, it is, I imagine, perfectly at liberty to release it on CD or download or to sell it on to anyone else.
Similarly, film director Jan Leman was, I believe, entirely at liberty to issue an expanded 2DVD/2CD version of his 1993 film ‘Acoustic Routes’ – focused on Bert and many of his musical peers – in 2013 based on existing contracts. The Leman example is one in which an individual/entity outside of the estate’s influence has effectively ‘curated’ a part of Bert’s musical legacy, and I know that Leman is primarily a fan and that this (like his original film) was a labour of love.
On a more business level, and still in the celluloid arena, Stefan Grossman’s 2011 DVD upgrade of his label’s ‘Guitar Artistry of the Bert Jansch Conundrum 1980’ video added 1975 and 1977 content from Danish and Swedish TV as extras, effectively ‘curating’ a kind of vintage collection of Bert’s work. Stefan is a businessman as well as a musician – I say that with no pejorative aspect – but also someone who knew Bert since the 60s. I’ve no idea whether Bert benefitted from the original video release, or the estate from the DVD release – or whether permissions were even required in the licensing transaction between Stefan and the various broadcasters – but purely from a fan perspective one must be glad that the material is available. It adds to our appreciation of Bert’s artistry.
Broadcasters can do what they like in terms of rebroadcasting, on whatever platform, content involving Bert Jansch. The BBC can rebroadcast whatever it wishes on radio or TV, as I understand it. Norwegian TV station NRK chose recently to make a filmed 1968 Pentangle concert freely available on its own online platform, hence various copies on to YouTube. I have no idea why broadcasters choose to share vintage content like this, but I’m delighted they do. NRK has, for its own reasons, greatly added to the Bert Jansch fan’s knowledge and appreciation – and done so without any financial transactions between anyone being required.
Financial matters and artistic decisions are probably the two areas of conflict between fans and estates – and in the current era of instant opinion sharing, it is now possible for a critical mass (in both senses) to be created among fan communities to effectively boycott or, at the very least, damage the sales of products that are viewed as crossing a line in terms of being ‘rip offs’ or in poor taste.
In terms of the artistic decisions area, the recent spate of ‘Frankenstein’ concert tours involving live bands and holograms of people like Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Ronnie James Dio and others – and the similar area of re-tooled vintage audio recordings pairing original vocals by the likes of Presley and Orbison with new orchestral accompaniments or worse, phony duets with contemporary acts – have fuelled debate. I have a feeling that a Nat ‘King’ Cole album in the 80s, adding co-vocals from his daughter Natalie, might have been the wellspring for the ‘phony duets’ approach. In the Cole case, there were strong sentimental reasons for it; it felt morally justifiable. In terms of contemporary ‘saleable’ acts duetting with long-dead artists they never knew or had any artistic connection with, the justification is surely less – it is surely only about money-making and, in my view, represents the estate taking decisions that risk damaging, rather than promoting, the artistic legacy of the original artist.
Adding stuff to existing recordings by deceased artists goes back to Buddy Holly (d.1959). His record label added backing musicians in typical Holly style to a home demo called ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ in June 1959, the success – commercially and artistically – of which led to an album of further posthumously assisted home recordings in 1960.
Record producer Alan Douglas, the initial manager of the Jimi Hendrix estate in the 1970s, was perhaps the first example of an estate runner with a public profile – a man who gave interviews, explained the posthumous products, was a ‘personality’ himself (as opposed to the typical estate runner, who generally remains behind the scenes. Some of Douglas’ ‘artistic decisions’ remain controversial, in terms of adding players to unfinished Hendrix recordings or, worse, replacing the existing supporting players with new ones. The subsequent history of the Hendrix estate, currently run by a half-sister, has been full of intrigue and controversy.
I don’t advocate that estate figures become public personalities like Alan Douglas or Jane Hendrix – it risks something similar to the ‘journalist becoming the story’. Once you are a public figure you can’t ‘unbecome’ one. An estate figure should be chiefly, in my view, a facilitator of activities and products related to the ongoing legacy (artistic and commercial) of the artist and that is best done, I think, in a back-office capacity – not inaccessible, but not actively seeking the limelight.
Occasionally, limited forays into the public arena by estate runners, if they are close family members, can be appropriate, indeed, almost expected. Prime examples would be introducing tribute concerts to late artists: Jack Bruce’s widow, for instance, did this at a tribute concert to Jack in the past year, and this is being released as ‘Sunshine of your Love’ on DVD/2CD later this month. I don’t think George Harrison’s widow Olivia introduced the similar ‘Concert for George’ event in 2002, but she organised it and son Dhani participated onstage. Likewise, I have no idea if family members introduced the Bert Jansch tribute concert that BBC4 filmed, but it would have been entirely appropriate.
Occasionally, fans or former colleagues can actively contribute to the ongoing legacy of an artist or writer by having/preserving or acquiring through their own archaeology and tenacity vintage writings or performances that may otherwise have been lost. A Lewis Carroll fan acquired at auction a unique copy of a lost chapter from ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, ‘The Wasp in a Wig’, in 1974 and allowed it to be published for all to enjoy in Martin Gardner’s ‘The Annotated Alice’. Similarly, a Wishbone Ash fan purchased at auction the sole surviving copy, on acetate, of their first album demos and then gifted it to the band members to release (as ‘First Light’) in 2007.
Taking Jimi Hendrix as an example again, his original manager Chas Chandler (d.1996) had a great deal of unreleased material in his possession but was in dispute with the estate. He possessed the material but did not have the rights to release it; the estate had the rights, but not the material. However this was eventually posthumously resolved, Chandler’s material appeared as an official 4CD box set via the estate in 2000. In Bert’s case, one manager from the 1970s retains an album’s worth of unreleased song demos, which is his to sit on and not release if he wishes; if he wishes to, he will need the estate’s permission.
Being a biographer/music historian of various people, I’m probably somewhere in between the basic fan and the business associate of an artist – but basically, I’m a fan with a historical bent who has an instinct to document and preserve things and fill in historical gaps. I’ve been in the happy position of gifting a lot of vintage unreleased live and radio recordings in my possession to a variety of artists and estates to do with as they wish – to either enjoy them themselves, share via web platforms or release in some commercial form. I’ve also been responsible for a few things appearing, by several artists (to the benefit of both those artists/estates and their fans), through audio archaeology and acquisition and often through acting as a kind of midwife to commercial release deals.
To give an example of how such a process can work, in 2018 an individual who was friendly with essentially the last survivor of the late British jazz pianist Gordon Beck’s (d.2011) family reached out on an online forum to ask people what he should do with a stash of tapes. I noticed the post, responded and, in brief, was able to meet the individual along with a record label MD at The Troubadour in London within a few weeks and plot a way forward. The label made an arrangement with the surviving relative, had the reels digitised, I then compiled four coherent discs of the best material from the stash (into a 3CD box and a single CD of distinct material), recommended a fabulous jazz historian to do the notes and rooted around in my vintage magazine collection (as did the jazz historian in his) for period images for the booklet. It was a terrific end product, adding to the artistic legacy of Gordon Beck, delighting fans, bringing some remuneration to the estate and was a great example, I think, of how an estate (albeit via a proxy) can ‘reach out’ to fans for advice and help.
Away from the area of releasing things commercially, fans can themselves ‘curate’ legacies to an extent in the online world – through establishing fan forums, tribute websites, creating Spotify playlists or YouTube playlists of favourite recordings/performances, or themed in some way (love songs, acoustic songs, instrumentals…). They don’t need to be great originators of content, just corallers of it in presenting an easy way for others to discover or sample an artist’s work.
Some fans go further. One Kevin Boyd, for instance, seems to be on a mission to present vintage concerts and radio sessions by the very-much-still-with-us Martin Carthy on YouTube, with his uploads having nicely branded title pages. I’ve no idea if Martin approves, but my own experience of him is that he’s probably relaxed about it. He’s quite otherworldly in some respects. Similarly, I make no apology for sharing numerous unreleased Pentangle and related vintage BBC sessions on YouTube. These will never, in my view, be released commercially and fans might as well enjoy them. As an aside, there is currently at least one UK record label testing the law in terms of radio broadcast copyright, believing that recordings over 50 years old are fair game for releasing without artist permissions. I have no informed opinion on the matter. As a very general instinct, my feeling would be that if an artist or label have not themselves commercially exploited 50+ year old radio recordings, having had all that time in which to do so, they become a matter of history – and history is for delving into. Others will have different opinions on this.
Happily, estates can often ‘get it right’ in terms of adding to history, adding to fans’ appreciation of an artist and creating or making happen products that the world is grateful for and that also bring in a fair reward for the estate. A concert film of Jimi Hendrix at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969 has been mired in a rights dispute for decades. The Hendrix estate surprised and delighted fans by announcing recently a public cinema showing of a painstakingly restored version of the film later this year. No DVD is planned but it must surely follow after all that work. Some have speculated that the 50-year effect may have come into play – that both sides in the dispute realised they were in a last-chance saloon for commercial exploitation of the film, lest low-quality copies already ‘out there’ start finding grey-area commercial release.
This ‘last chance saloon’ metaphor will, I believe, become increasingly relevant to the estates of recording artists. I believe the archive/reissue record industry is in its end times. I foresee a window of three or four years in which physical CD product will remain viable. Three longstanding UK retro-based labels that I’ve worked with on various projects over 20+ years have either quietly closed their doors this year or will do so in managed form over the next few months. I am aware of a fourth of similar vintage that has taken the same decision. There will be more. Labels that own catalogue, like Ace and Cherry Red, will survive a bit longer. But the chief problems are universal: the collapse of physical distribution and, particularly, international distribution (the ability of labels to sell direct to distributors in Germany, Japan, USA, etc.), the decline of record stores, Amazon dominance, the inexorable rise of streaming, a forthcoming digital tax, etc.
(The estates of writers face a whole other set of problems, given the decline of physical bookshops, Amazon’s aggressive pricing, the ease of e-book piracy, etc. – the latter I’ve experienced myself, incidentally, which is why two or three of my books have no official e-book: why bother giving pirates the stuff to pinch in the first place?)
At this stage in the game, over 30 years on from the introduction of the CD, the great majority of worthwhile catalogue by most significant artists has been released and released again and often again, in increasing fidelity and luxuriance of presentation. The ‘microgroove era’ (vinyl LPs/singles) spanned roughly 40 years (1950–90); the shellac era before that spanned roughly the same (1910s–50s). It looks like the CD era will be a thing of similar duration – the late 80s to the mid-2020s. (The present vinyl revival seems to me to belong to a different set of parameters – akin to limited-run ‘facsimile editions’ of books or other artefacts: less a core music-carrying solution than a collectable artefact that generally comes with a download code. It may well be a viable product for a while yet.)
Counterintuitively, perhaps, it seems to me that while the single CD / double CD option for archive product, with remastering, loveably created booklets, etc. is collapsing, there is a market (for a limited time, I feel) for ‘more is more’ box sets – tombstone-sized ‘last word’ sets on 1960s–70s acts with enough of a core following to cough up £200–300 for a 20–30 disc set with a load of ephemera added. Snapper/Madfish have pioneered this market – rightly reckoning that there will be circa 2,500 people willing to pay such sums for monster archive sets by the likes of Family, Wishbone Ash, Pretty Things, etc. Occasionally, an artist’s estate will pursue this route themselves – the example of the late Traffic sax/flute man Chris Wood being a good one. His estate ran a crowdfunding campaign to make a 4LP set + book etc. of rare recordings possible, retailing at £200+. I suspect that this direct approach – an estate appealing directly to fans to allow deluxe limited edition sets to be created – will be utilised more in future.
Combining the ‘last chance’ aspect of physical music retailing with the ‘vinyl revival’ has provided artists’ estates with a winning opportunity (for the moment) to maximise revenue via high-ticket ‘luxury’ product. But this comes at the cost of public opinion – the court of which is very vocal and has access to the technology for negative views to spread like wildfire, with artist estates becoming a whipping boy, whipped mercilessly on fan forums and online reviews in the event of perceived over-exploitation of fans.
The recent case of the David Bowie estate’s handling of a series of 7-inch vinyl box sets of unreleased 1960s demos should be a warning to all artist estates about how not to do it. Eking out old demos one-a-side on 7-inch vinyl in ridiculously priced boxed sets has nothing to do with making historic recordings available to people at a fair price and everything to do with making a load of money from a core of diehards for music presented on an extremely inconvenient playing medium. One might guess that estate (or estate + label) reckoned that if they simply put out vinyl LPs or CDs of the tracks, these would be swiftly shared online. If they make the music as inconvenient to pirates/sharers as possible by spreading it over loads of 7-inch singles in boxes retailing for three figures, they will (a) make a killing quickly and (b) make an extreme virtue of the physical artefact, as a tempter to the faithful.
I’m not sure this has worked. People aren’t idiots. And for those without a spare £100+ who simply want to buy/hear the music, not purchase an heirloom, the stuff will inevitably leak online eventually. (As an aside, this over-exploitation of fans with ludicrously overpriced or imperfectly curated box sets extends to some living artists – Paul McCartney, already a wealthy man, has infuriated core fans in recent years with some of his obscene box set pricings and artistic decision-making vis a vis the content included, or the content left off, said box sets.)
The perceived motivations of the David Bowie estate were again given the glare of unwelcome publicity recently when Robert Fripp announced litigation against UK recorded performance collecting agency PPL, the Bowie estate and Bowie’s record label for the change in his status as a performer (vis a vis PPL royalties) on Bowie’s 1970s album ‘Low’ and the iconic single ‘Heroes’. Fripp is not and never has been a bog-standard session player – it is extremely well-documented that Bowie flew him to Berlin specifically, for his specific skills, to play on tracks. In the absence of an actual contract stating this blindingly obvious fact, someone – almost certainly the Bowie estate – has approached PPL (probably via the label, from whom PPL will take instruction relating to the division of royalties on a given product) and actively had them change Fripp’s status, affecting his ongoing remuneration. It is hard to see why the estate felt they needed to do this in financial terms, while in public relations terms it is a disaster. The court of public opinion now has them confirmed as a shower of money-grubbers.
If there is indeed a limited time window of three or four years, given the declining business environment (not any decline in people’s interest in vintage music), for estates to monetise rereleased/repackaged catalogue or unreleased material via the medium of conventional record retailing, what will happen after that? How will unreleased music get to people who care about the artist? Who can say for sure…? There may well be some new carrier of music or way of digitally distributing music that becomes viable, but I can’t see it. New music-making will become a hobby, and repackaging old music may well also become a hobby. Last year, for instance, I contributed a couple of rare high-quality off-air Cream BBC tracks in my possession to a fan-curated and freely-shared 2CD (via FLAC download) anthology of their 1966-68 BBC sessions – the existing 1CD official BBC sessions set by Cream having had its sales, and being deficient in content to the fan community.
I think luxury artefacts in the form of relatively high-ticket vinyl items will continue to be viable in limited runs. Earth Records’ 2016 vinyl edition of Bert Jansch’s 1979 masterpiece ‘Avocet’, with a series of beautiful ‘alternative cover’ art prints depicting the birds in each tune title, commissioned especially for the release, was a triumph – competitively priced and fabulously re-presented. I don’t know the extent to which this idea was estate-driven or label-driven, but the end result was a text-book example of looking after a late artist’s musical legacy and reputation. The release delighted existing fans and was widely covered in the relevant media, reminding or telling people for the first time about Bert’s unique artistry. How people will react to a forthcoming re-re-release of ‘Avocet’ on Earth, expanded with three live tracks and retailing at twice the original price, remains moot. Fans with no doubt several editions of ‘Avocet’ in their collections, including the 2016 Earth one, may well begrudge having to buy it again for three ‘new’ tracks. But then they aren’t under any obligation to purchase it. Still, these days, everyone has an opinion and the ability to share it to the world and no one can prevent them from doing so.
In short, when an artist passes on, their reputation by and large becomes set in stone. Sometimes, it can rise over time, sometimes it can fall out of fashion – but loyal fans will generally remain loyal fans. Estates have a tricky path to negotiate as ‘official’ keepers of the flame – background entities whose activities have periodic foreground impacts, for good or ill, in the perception of fans.
In the case of Bert Jansch, as far as I can see, the roles of fostering an artistic legacy and business decisions relating to the ongoing commercial exploitation of his copyrights has effectively been split into two distinct entities: the Bert Jansch estate and the Bert Jansch Foundation. The latter, a charitable entity run by Bert’s mother in law, actively promotes acoustic music, gives grants to young musicians, runs events including guitar workshops teaching Bert’s style of playing and is running the ingenious ‘Around the World in 80 Plays’ series, where Yamaha guitars are flown around the world to musicians who wish to perform and film a piece of music associated with Bert, by way of tribute and keeping his music alive. It seems to me to be a wholly admirable entity, passionately run. I may be wrong on this, but I think it was the Foundation that sponsored the publication of the 2017 book ‘Bert Transcribed’, featuring accurate transcriptions of 24 Jansch tunes – transcriptions carried out by fans who are themselves superb players. Everyone’s a winner here.
Bert’s fans, either in tandem with the Foundation or on their own, are a fantastic example of a late artist’s fan community that is active in keeping that artist’s music ‘out there’ – through transcriptions, posting videos of covers for others to copy the fingering, and sharing live recordings, old TV clips and suchlike online.
Ultimately, though, while charitable trusts and estates can indeed help to foster appreciation of a late artist, it comes down to people – fans sharing their enthusiasms. These days, we don’t need to do that in hushed pub conversations or trying to seek out fellow fans in the real world (a tricky business in pre-internet days, as far as I can recall) – we do it online. If an artist did anything worth a damn, it will live on through the passion of individuals. Organisations like estates can do their thing – and they have the potential to do that well, to find ways to delight existing fans with the odd new item and to keep core catalogue available – but they are ultimately of secondary importance. There is only, in the end, the music and the person hearing it. Transactional relationships within that are, whether we like it or not, approaching a point where they drift into history.