JAV Recordings was founded in 1997 by Joseph Vitacco to document some of the best electro-pneumatic pipe organs built during the 20th century, initially focusing on those instruments built by the Skinner and Aeolian-Skinner Companies. In subsequent years, the company has expanded its focus to other notable pipe organs throughout the world. In 2007 Joseph Vitacco spearheaded raising over $250,000 to restore the pipe organ at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Brooklyn.
From the founder:
“Around this time the CD had made its first appearance. I liked much about the new media and thought I could make a better, more exciting product than the very few pipe organ CDs which had been produced to date. After buying my first organ CD in the mid 1980s I realized the potential of this new medium; very low noise, wider dynamic range and frequency response. I dreamed of adding my own ideas to the offering on the market. This dream had to wait until 1995, when I thought of the perfect CD to target to the 1996 American Guild of Organists Convention in New York City: a multi-CD set featuring substantial documentation of 23 of New York City’s most famous organs, with 27 of the city’s foremost artists playing them. The end result, Great Organs of New York (GOONY), was highly successful.
“In 1997, I ventured into the recording industry, founding JAV Recordings. In the beginning, I recorded those organs made by the Skinner and Aeolian-Skinner Companies. I set out to record top organists playing these magnificent pipe organs that were located throughout the United States. A few years later, in 2001, I teamed up with Christoph Martin Frommen the owner of Aeolus. This European recording engineer shared my vision for making top-quality organ recordings. In conjunction with him, I was able to record some of the most important pipe organs in Europe. We made many successful recordings in Paris: at Saint-Sulpice and Notre-Dame Cathedral, and then also in Rouen and Strasbourg.
“Technology has changed rapidly since 1995, making things possible that one couldn’t have dreamed of a few years before. Blogs and social media have allowed me to engage with my customers and share photos, audio clips and videos with them. But the Internet has also led to changes in how people access music. After all, the LP gave way to the CD which then has given way to audio streaming and downloading. Everything now points to the eventual disappearance of the CD; to keep pace with the changing technology I signed a contract with a leading digital aggregator to digitally distribute the entire JAV catalog. This change from physical product to streaming has led to changes in how people value music.”
Music can be obtained instantaneously and for little or no cost, although the costs and time required to produce a first-class recording have not diminished. This fact will make the future a more challenging environment for the specialized music labels, as payment for audio streams are measured in fractions of a penny and the target market is small.
JAV Recordings has been successful in adapting to changes in technology. To be successful in the future will require more innovation and change. JAV Recordings will continue to play an integral part in promoting the pipe organ. While the business model by which the music is recorded and promoted will be different than it is today or was in the past, JAV Recordings plans to continue in the direction of flexibility and ingenuity.
“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe