You’ve heard it on every television infomercial: “But wait! There’s more!”
That might be exciting when you’re getting free goodies with something you bought, but would you still be excited if you had to buy the same product again to get those extra goodies?
If your answer was “no,” then, like me, you’re probably not a fan of repackaged music. Using words like “Deluxe,” “Limited” and “Collectors,” the record labels can successfully clean out your wallet by selling you the same music you just bought, but with bonus tracks or other exclusive content.
I’ve found this to be a bigger problem in the last 20 years or so, where these alternate versions of albums are available the same day as the standard releases. Why not focus all of your attention on one album instead of several versions of the same album? There are two main reasons behind this.
Probably the most obvious reason is to sell more records and make more money. A good example of this is when Garth Brooks released the “Double Live” album in 1998. Originally, there were six different versions released. The music was the same on each version, but the album covers were all different. Hardcore fans felt the need to buy all six versions, and it worked.
“Double Live” became the highest selling live album in U.S. music history. While this caused some to accuse Brooks of trying to artificially inflate his record sales, the idea was brilliant. Nobody was forced to buy anything, and it was made clear that every version had the same music. It’s hard to say anybody got ripped off.
The second reason for alternate versions of albums is where many people do feel ripped off: Some record labels and artists provide exclusive content to certain retailers that others don’t have, so fans will be more likely to purchase the album from that retailer.
Legendary rock group, Kiss’s most recent album, “Monster,” had a bonus track called “Right Here Right Now” that was only available on iTunes. I only found out about it a few months ago, and the album was released in 2012.
That song is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard from the band. So why would you take a risk like that? For the labels, artists and retailers, it’s a great business deal, but the music itself gets the short end of the stick.
I believe that if you record 14 songs for an album that are worth releasing, all 14 of them should be available, regardless of where someone buys the album.
Unfortunately, though, that’s how the business is now. Record sales are nowhere near what they used to be, so the industry has to try these different ideas so they can actually sell records. Is there a better way? Not that I know of. At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: If you like it, buy it.