Since Napster came into the scene in the late 90s, the recording industry has been desperate to convince people to continue buying albums. The massification of MP3s in a way lowered what people thought music was worth, and so they became less likely to actually go ahead and get a CD. Of course, the recording industry shares a big part of the blame in this problem, having been always devoted to a commercial model that was outdated and impractical. Even things like Spotify, Pandora, Youtube and the like have been opposed by the industry, instead of welcomed as potential sources of revenue. Although in the end, as we all know, the industry ended up changing its position in regards to MP3s and streaming services, it was always too little too late.
Although limited editions have always existed, nowadays they seem to be exploited to crazy levels by labels and bands, seen as a possible new source of income. It’s no longer about a version of a CD that has a couple of bonus tracks and a nicer cover, but about albums released in 5 or 6 versions, with some of them being different colors of the same record, in ridiculously small quantities. Add to that the “box set” versions of albums, including random crap, photos you won’t look, the odd autograph and a CD/vinyl; and the “bootleg” versions, released in really small batches before the official street date. In the end, if you are a fan, you feel like there’s just too much shit out there.
Let’s take, for instance, Watain’s The Wild Hunt. This (amazing) album came out in 8 (EIGHT) fucking versions, namely:
- Standard CD jewelcase
- Limited-edition CD mediabook
- 2LP, 180gr black vinyl
- Digital Download
- Bootleg Edition
- Limited-edition box set. This, in turn, in the following versions
- Normal retail version (only 1 thousand copies)
- Gold vinyl version (only 2 thousand copies, available only through the label)
- Red vinyl version (only 2 thousand copies, available only through the band, and including a 7’’).
Some bands, trying to appeal to the moronic SVPER TRVE KVLT crowd also release a few copies as tapes, in case you’re eager to experience one of the shittiest media formats to have ever been created.
Is this really reasonable?
As a supporter of the free market, I believe everyone should be able to sell whatever they want, as long as there’s someone willing to purchase it. Still, I think that it is really questionable whether it is correct to artificially limit the availability of a product in order to jack up prices and fuck with some fans. Music fans, after all, are known to want to collect the releases of their favorite artists, and just fucking them with the same album in 10 different versions is just wrong, particularly when some of them only differ in the color you used to print the record.
For quite some time now it has seemed like the industry is running out of ideas as to how to capitalize on their artists (including different ways to fuck them) and it’s always the fans who pay the price. Nowadays it seems like they are catering to the obsessive compulsive demographic, who are probably the only ones who’ll go out of their way to buy everything they put out. Only time will tell what will be the industry’s next blunder.
…Oh, and as someone who bought The Wild Hunt’s box set… Fuck you Century Media. Fuck You.