I've never been one to pretend that I understand record label strategy. In most cases, it's because there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what they do. My relationship with them pretty much equates to a battered wife situation: I offer support in the form of hard-earned cash, they beat me, and I come back for more.
What's got me all hot and bothered lately is deluxe editions. Don't get me wrong, I love a good deluxe edition of a classic album as much as the next music fan but there are records that deserve it (REM's Murmur comes to mind) and those that don't (The Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experience? Really?).
The criteria for a deluxe edition once seemed to be: is the record a classic? Does it deserve this treatment? Is there bonus material to make it worth buying again? Does it make any sense? The latest epidemic of deluxe editions of records mere months after they were originally released flies in the face of that thinking, turning admittedly fine records into classics before "earning" it.
In the coming weeks the indie music fan will decide whether or not to buy deluxe editions of records that have been out about a year or less:
The Friendly Fires record has been out since July of 2008. The deluxe edition is out now and includes a bonus DualDisc with new single "Kiss Of Life," remixes, videos, and a concert filmed in May.
Two Suns by Bat For Lashes has been out since April. The deluxe edition dropped this week and boasts eight bonus tracks and a documentary DVD.
Fever Ray's self-titled album was released in March. The deluxe edition comes out October 12 and has bonus tracks and a DVD of videos.
These are good records. They may even be worthy of a deluxe edition ten years in the future. But do they deserve a deluxe edition now, months after their original release? And what of the fans who have already bought the album? The new versions have been padded with decent bonus material that a fan would want but they'll surely feel a little put out to have to buy the album again.
I guess the point is that if you buy an album early, more and more often you can expect to have to buy it again within the year. So what is the savvy record buyer to do? Wait a year just to be sure a deluxe edition isn't released? I highly doubt the record companies would like that but they're not really respecting their consumer so why should the consumer respect them? It's no wonder people can't be bothered to buy music anymore.