Where do you want your fans to go?
Give people too much choice and they don’t buy at all. It’s one of the reason’s why a lot of people are still sitting on the fence when it comes to streaming. They’re not sure if it’s going to stick. My musical journey started with vinyl and cassettes, then I had to upgrade my vinyl/cassette collection to CD’s, then I ripped all of my CD’s into MP3’s and now I’m doing streaming. As just one music consumer from the millions in the world, I have Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace” on vinyl, on CD and on CD again as a remastered release. Actually, this is the same deal for all of Megadeth’s output up to “Rust In Peace”.
For Motley Crue, (it’s the same deal for all of their albums up to 1989) I have “Dr Feelgood” on cassette, vinyl, CD, CD remastered, in the box set “Music To Crash Your Car Too” and on CD again remastered with bonus tracks.
For the 1994 Motley Crue CD, I have it on cassette, the CD with the red writing and the CD with the yellow writing. Plus I have the super expensive Japanese EP, “Quaternary”.
So you can see how band sales are really inflated when you have other people in the world doing the same thing I am doing, which is re-purchasing the music in different formats and in some cases with bonus tracks upgrades.
I will used “Shout At The Devil” and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue as a case study.
“Shout At The Devil” came out in January 1984. By November 1989, it was certified triple platinum for 3 million in sales in the U.S. You could safely say that Motley Crue had 3 million fans. However in May, 1997, it received its 4x Platinum award for 4 million U.S. sales. While the label and the band would believe they had picked up an extra million fans, the truth is, those million sales over 8 years came from their original 3 million fans, re-buying the same album in a different format or packaging maybe once or twice.
“Dr Feelgood” came out in November 1989. By January 1991, it was certified 4x Platinum for 4 million U.S. sales. Its next certification came in May, 1997, for six million U.S sales. Again, the band didn’t just pick up 2 million new fans. Instead it was the hard-core fans re-purchasing an album they already owned on normal CD and then with the remastered bonus tracks.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late 90’s they had too many models, all with design and functionality issues, that even Apple couldn’t keep up servicing them. So, it’s no wonder that Jobs streamlined the product range. And then Apple started to make money again. Now that Jobs is gone, Tim Cook is following the same mistakes of the other clueless leaders Apple had when Job’s wasn’t in charge. Too many products with too many bugs.
Look at the band releases these days and how many different offerings they have. The recent Metallica release has the following packages;
- CD – normal album
- Vinyl – normal album
- CD – Deluxe album
- Vinyl – Deluxe album
- iTunes – normal album
- iTunes – Deluxe album
- Streaming – normal album
- Streaming – Deluxe album
Why is there a need to have a normal album release and a deluxe album release these days?
Why can’t the album just be the album? If the band wants to put out three discs, let them and call it THE ALBUM…
Price and the how people will pay high prices for what they deem superior or rare is one of the reasons mentioned for the deluxe edition still existing but these days the deluxe edition is not in limited supply anymore. Millions are in circulation. The real main reason is due to artists and labels refusing to abandon the past.
Jobs refused to be chained to the past. Legacy ports were axed on the iMac. CD Rom drives got axed on later versions. The iPod was murdered by the iPhone. If Jobs let the past dictate the future, Apple would have been left dead and buried. But the past is the Achilles heel for the music business. The public is moving on. It doesn’t care if HMV goes under. It doesn’t care if mp3’s are declining. Hell, mp3’s via Napster is nearly 20 years old. The public at large doesn’t care about deluxe editions. Super fans and fans of bonus tracks do care but the music business cannot roll on these fans alone. It needs the majority, hence the reason why streaming has become a big player, because it offers access.
Trust me the labels would prefer to not have streaming, because the listens are anaemic on signed acts. Hell, there are DIY bands who have more listens on their account than label backed bands. But streaming exists, because the majority wanted it.
Don’t let the past dictate the future.