Sony to Sell Off Iconic Photo Archive in the Face of Industry Slump

Sony has come up with a creative way of generating revenue in the face of the industry-wide slump in music sales. The New York Times reports that executives at the company are tapping into the photo archives in the basement of its New York headquarters, and are expected today to announce a partnership with the Morrison Hotel Gallery—which showcases prominent music photographers—to sell off Sony’s "gold mine" of classic rock images.

Apparently there are decades’ worth of photos that were taken by staff photographers at Columbia Records, which Sony acquired in 1988. The images were more or less collecting dust until last year, when Sony started selling reproductions of them via its newly created boutique business, Icon Collectibles. Now, an exhibition of photos from Columbia’s 30th Street Studio is slated at the gallery for mid-July. "We’re looking to take advantage of all the assets of the company, not just the audio recordings. We have the content, and we found a way to tap into it," John Ingrassia, president of Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s commercial music group, told The Times. Some of the hot-ticket items include:

  • "Miles Davis recording Kind of Blue in 1959 at the company’s old 30th Street Studio."
  • "Bob Dylan standing with then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo on a slushy Greenwich Village street in 1963."
  • "Bruce Springsteen proudly holding a copy of his first record in 1973."
  • "Johnny Cash deep in thought with a guitar on his lap in 1959."
  • "An image of Sly Stone in front of a reel-to-reel tape player in 1973."
  • "Dramatic photos of Muhammad Ali, then still known as Cassius Clay, recording the 1963 spoken-word album I Am the Greatest!"

No word on what the originals might sell for, but if it’s any indication, the reproductions cost $300 to $1,700. Sony to Sell Off Iconic Photo Archive in the Face of Industry Slump