I’m taking credit for this one.

I went to a MusicTank discussion about online music with some hefty industry people in London last year. I did my usual thing of being ‘Annoying Questions Guy’ in the audience. One of the head honchos in charge of online distribution for Universal was there, and so I asked "What percentage of all the music that Universal has in its catalogue is currently for sale in any form anywhere on earth?".

"Probably less than 2 percent" was the answer.

The reason? It costs money to digitise and make available all of the back catalogue stuff – and besides, there’d be no payoff. Nobody’s really interested in that deleted stuff anyway….

I called him on it. I said I bet if he started to put that stuff up on the internet for sale, it would pay for itself many times over very, very quickly – and open up a whole new revenue stream for his ailing corporate overlords. He was skeptical, and made very clear that he thought that the music business was very much a current hits game. That was just over a year ago.

And today, this:

Universal confirms music fans want rare tracks online

Universal Music has seen significant success in releasing back-catalogue and out-of-print music through digital music services, including iTunes. The world’s largest record label this morning revealed that its download-only reissues of classic tracks have raised a quarter of a million song sales.