music opinions

Opinion piece – reissues with exclusive bonus material need to stop

Sales tactics that make me mad

As someone that buys a lot of albums and EP’s (although rarely singles these days unless they have unique b-sides) I feel like I am doing my bit to support and show love to the many musical artists I love. That’s why as someone who buys things the first time around, when an artist reissues something again with exclusive content – it feels like a kick in the face to the people whom bought it originally.

Son Lux announced a reissue of their first two albums on vinyl. Great for fans who joined late, but I own them already on CD. However, they have bundled a third unreleased album of material that will never be sold separately. You must buy the vinyl. Kate Bush re-released all of her albums as This Woman’s Work with two discs on b-sides – but as someone that owns all the albums, why can’t I easily buy those b-sides separately (the option was turned off on music sites to buy individual tracks)? Why am I being punished for buying your music first time around.

I’ve picked those two examples specifically because the reissues change nothing from the original release – they aren’t remastered. It also actively stops you just buying the new stuff. Often with special editions, they are available with bonus tracks on release so you can make the informed choice – do I want to spend an extra couple of pound for that bonus or not? Back when the world was less globally connected, you’d often have a bonus track on the Japanese release (Garbage, Imogen Heap to name just two). The modern day equivalent of this having track exclusives for different shops (Tori Amos) which I equally detest but at least you can simply buy those individual songs from a different store digitally if you want to be a completionist.

Where I draw the line is when I’m punished for being a fan and buying out of the gate, to then be expected to prove my loyalty again later on. As a fan, I should be able to easily purchase the material I want to have, without needing to double down or buy in formats I can’t use (vinyl). In an industry that is already so crowded, it feels like this tactic places barriers between the buying public and the artist. I don’t stream music (yes, I’m one of those people who buys things). I take pride in supporting those I can. Don’t make me feel like your trying to rinse me dry. My money can easily be spent on another artist who keeps the gates open for those to buy everything they want, in the packages they want it in.

Worryingly, I’m also starting to see a new trend appearing – time limited albums. Much like digital licensing in games (*sigh*), these albums are put out for a limited time and then removed from sale. Woob is a huge advocate of this as it creates high demand to get it before its gone – but as a late comer to Woob’s music – how the hell can I ever get to buy that elusive back catalogue? How many sales is he missing out on further down the line? If you want to push a timed deal, make it a discount or a bundle package not actual content. An event is something that’s ephemeral and time bound – I do not believe art should be.

Does this bother and annoy anyone else? Let me know by messaging or commenting below.

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*Edit – Son Lux, the day after announcing it won’t be available elsewhere, have now placed the Remnants exclusive album out for individual pre-order.

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