Muscial Rant: Ultimate Box Sets


Let’s face it, we all know that the record industry has been losing money over the past few years thanks to the introduction of mp3s where most people buy the singles they want the most. This means that they keep coming up with new ways for people to buy physical albums that cost way too much. It seems like the latest trend are “ultimate box sets” of new releases and at this point so many people are doing it that it’s just annoying. I first noticed it last year when the 20th anniversary of Nevermind was being released. There were several standard editions, but there was also a “Super Deluxe Edition.” Now because I’m a huge Nirvana fan I wanted this so badly, but I had to wait for months until a price tag was revealed. When it turned out that it was going to cost around $150, I knew I wasn’t getting it anytime soon.

It was pretty ridiculous, but it was celebrating a classic album, the special packaging felt appropriate. But the following year I noticed more and more artists were taking the same idea. Green Day offered an “Ultimate Box Set” for their trilogy with a price tag of $80, which included apparel and an “Exclusive” DVD and Rihanna has a super special edition of her upcoming album that costs $200. Muse even had one for The 2nd Law that costs $145. Some fans may think it’s great; you get so many goodies for shelling out some extra money. But is it really worth it? Most of the time it’s just an “exclusive” t-shirt, a poster, and more stuff that can be purchased separately. On one hand it’s kind of cool that stuff like this is being offered, but on the other it feels pointless when every band starts doing it.

It’s also annoying because music is a luxury. Whether you’re buying a physical disc or an mp3 file, it’s something extra that you don’t need. Most of the time people can’t afford the music they want to buy, especially in this economy, so when you start seeing all these super ultimate fan editions of albums you may not be able to buy anyway, it feels like a punch in the face. It sucks even more when these costlier packages have items that you can only get with that edition. It’s as if the music industry is saying you can’t have this extra cool item because you don’t have enough money to afford this edition. And when you’re a music collector on a budget it’s even worse. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if one or two artists did it every so often, but now that it feels like every band is doing it for anything they release, it’s not only annoying, but makes the item less special and unique. You can justify spending that type of money maybe once for an item like that, but 3 times in one year? That’s asking too much if you ask me.

Also, these special editions are being released for albums that fans have not yet heard. Therefore, they don’t even know if they like the material. You could end up spending $200 for an album and some bonus stuff and end up not liking the album; money wasted. It makes more sense when these packages are offered for re-releases of older albums because it’s actually giving you a reason to buy this record again. So, for Nevermind and Bad 25, it made sense to me. But for something like Green Day’s new albums it makes no sense to me to spend that kind of money when you’re not sure if you’re going to like it.

I’m not saying that these packages should cost as much as a standard disc, but the pricing should be more reasonable. And there should be items in there actually worth your time instead of a fucking view master. What do you think? Do you think these ultimate sets are worth it? Or do you think artists should slow down on how often they release them?


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