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GUEST,Phil d'Conch Stinson Records Revisted (58* d) RE: Stinson Records Revisted 17 Jan 21


Asch-Stinson per Goldsmith:
“It is possible that the meagerness of the (Leadbelly) sales was partially a function of the shellac shortage. Though Asch may have had sufficient material in his vaults on acetate to keep him going through the recording ban, the shellac shortage was providing him with serious trouble. The solution he arrived at was in finding someone with the opposite problem – plenty of shellac and no material to release. Herbert Harris was a party member who ran a movie house on Forty-sixth Street that played Soviet films. When the Soviet Union pulled its exhibit from the 1939 New York World's Fair at the time of the Hitler-Stalin pact, Harris was given their stock of Soviet records to sell. A few of the records were renditions of Russian folk songs, including the stunning recordings of traditional Byelorussian songs and dances by the Piatnitsky Chorus, which had appeared at the world's fair that year. But many others were frankly propagandistic, such as “Red Army Nurses Arrive at the Front” or “March of the Partisans.” Harris sold the Soviet recordings out of his Union Square store, Stinson Trading Company. When his initial stock was exhausted, he pressed more. Thus by the time of the shellac shortage Stinson had pressed enough records that he was entitled to a significant allotment. But the market for Soviet recordings – even in the heyday of American communism – was not vast and consequently Harris was looking for additional material to release.

The arrangement made between Harris and Asch appears to have been relatively casual; if documents ever changed hands, they have not survived. Asch's material would be pressed and marketed by Harris under the Asch-Stinson label, and Asch would receive a share of the royalties. The agreement became effective on 27 January 1943. Thereafter, and until the conclusion of the of the war, all of Asch's material – whether it appeared on the Asch or Asch-Stinson label – was sold through the Stinson Trading Company in Union Square. In these years few people – and the artists least of all – distinguished between Asch and Stinson. It was a single company in the eyes of most, and for a period of three years Herbert Harris became a part of the circle gradually growing up around Asch Records.”
[Making People's Music: Moe Asch and Folkways Records, Goldsmith, 1998, pp.109-110]


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