There are many ways to become involved with Victor Talking Machine Co!
...and the most obvious is in volunteering your time or expertise to any number of projects. Are you an engineer? a producer? a musician? a machinist? a former RCA employee? do you enjoy history? do you enjoy music? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, we are very very likely able to direct you to either an internship, job, or volunteer operations with Victor Talking Machine Co. The absolute best way to reach the company is by email or phone!
An alternate way of contributing is by donating monetarily (or in artifacts such as disc records, machines, photos, newspaper clippings, papers etc.) to the Victor Sound Foundation, the non-profit division tasked with the restoration, preservation, and re-issuing of 10,000+ recordings located at The Vault at Victor Records. This contribution is tax deductible and will also help to establish Victor's planned "Birthplace of Music Museum at Victor Studios" in Camden, NJ.
It is our mission at Victor Talking Machine Co. through The Vault at Victor Records and The Victor Sound Foundation to preserve the music industry we all fell in love with over 100 years ago by preserving its history, thereby educating the public and paving a way for a new age of music industry. Preserving music and the music industry Victor Talking Machine Co. created over 100 years ago means consistently remaining true to spirit, no matter the genre. Here at VTMC it is our belief that what truly matters are the songs, lyrics, music, language, and instruments, contained on these masters. To us, these ancient greats represent one of the most important building blocks to understanding modern music and the music industry we all enjoy today. In addition to preserving such music, our mission includes a critical study of the origins of modern popular genres which are all closely linked to the first Jazz, Blues, Dance, Opera, Classical, and Folk music that Victor pioneered. In the mid 20th century, record labels were increasingly worried more about sound quality as opposed to the simple enjoyment of a performance or song. Labels like Victor (which would eventually become RCA-Victor by 1945) became obsessed with increasing the fidelity of how a recording should sound and many executives were essentially opposed to re-issuing what they deemed to be ancient recordings. In doing so, these executives determined that the master recordings contained in the original Victor Records Vault at the waterfront in Camden, N.J. were worth nothing more than the amount of space they occupied. With that in mind, in the early 1960s, Radio Corporation of America executives issued the decree to destroy the nearly 60-year-old historic Victor Master Vault.
Why would someone demolish the original Victor Vault?
When the Victor label became RCA-Victor in 1945, the parent company, Radio Corporation of America, gradually began a process of eliminating traces of Victor - slowly - over the following 25 years. By the 1960s, executives at Radio Corporation of America determined (in order to build a dock to ship large machines out of Camden, N.J. in search of cheaper labor) that it would be wise and resourceful to build a dock surrounding and using “that old Victor Vault” (containing over 300,000 metal master, acetate, test, and shellac discs across 4 floors) as fill to save money on concrete. A date was set for demolition and while many employees, collectors, and some executives opposed the action and saved as many masters as they could during a period in which they were allowed to enter the building, only an estimated 50 to 100 thousand pieces were saved from their watery grave in the Delaware River, where many remain buried deep in concrete today.
During the demolition, many recorded masters by seminal artists like Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Rachmaninov were lost for all time, They simply weren’t important to the company or most record buyers at the time. Embarrassingly, after Radio Corporation of America was purchased by G.E. in the mid 1980s, G.E. sold the company’s RCA Records division to German-owned BMG Music who then sold it to Sony in Japan. When these companies sought to reissue historic artists, they were often shocked to find they no longer owned the master recording. These companies were forced to purchase masters by contacting former employees & collectors and even resorting to re-issuing recordings that had been transferred directly from a clean copy of the record that would have been purchased in stores! Later, while comparing similar stories of lost historic recordings and their companies' decisions to destroy their own masters, Billboard Magazine called Radio Corporation of America’s demolition of the Victor Vault in Camden the “most spectacular case of wholesale vault trashing” in the music industry. By this feat, 1960s RCA executives were able to pull off a rare hat trick of destroying a historic building, historic recordings & culture, while simultaneously polluting the river into which these items were bulldozed... Now that's what I call music!™
How can I get Involved?
If you are reading this, you already are! We thank you for coming to a show or event at The Vault at Victor Records. Portions of every ticket sale go to keeping these incredibly historic master recordings preserved, protected, and restored not only to optimum condition for remastering but also to their original home in Camden County. The sales of all non-profit Victor Talking Machine Co. “His Master’s Voice” label historic re-issue records (located in The Vault’s Gift Shop), go directly towards the preservation of the masters contained in the vault. If you or someone you know would like to donate to the His Master’s Voice non-profit organization, please feel free to contact us at any time by calling 1-844-802-2557 (Victor Talking Machine Label Group) or by placing a monetary donation below.