When The Second Disc's Exile on Main St. poll was posted, I mentioned that I had noticed a rather unusual trend in the purchase of the various deluxe sets that were available.
As a member of the electronics/entertainment staff at a Target store, I was able to track a few of the big sets, some of which were only available through our retailers. Target was the only place to get the bonus disc of the deluxe edition (that is, the Rarities Edition), as well as the fan pack which bundled a t-shirt and guitar pick with the Rarities Edition disc.
From my perspective, we seemed to have the Rarities Edition in the greatest quantity, followed by the regular single-disc remaster, the Deluxe Edition and that fan pack. Such "fan packs" are nothing new to mainstream retailers; recall the crates and shirts that came with The Beatles remasters at Best Buy or the similarly-designed shirt that came with the mostly-Target exclusive Pearl Jam LP Backspacer. But let's face it: most hardcore music fans and collectors (including, I'd wager, a good chunk of The Second Disc's readership) see such baubles as exactly that, and only secondary to the promise of new music or vault cuts.
But then I noticed an unusual trend. The fan pack had sold out the quickest - and on top of that, customers were calling and coming in looking for the set. Fellow co-workers in the department noted similar scenarios. Was this how things were going down elsewhere in the country? I thought. Granted, the Target I work at is a fair-sized store housed in a commercial area between several upper-middle-class suburbs in New Jersey. It's not a major hot spot for music, especially catalogue music (the Garden State has quite a few nice indie retailers for those needs).
And yet, here were average Americans reacting to a catalogue title in a way that they wanted to wear a t-shirt with the record sleeve emblazoned on the front. That's where the poll came from, and that got me the answer to that burning question: Was this how things were going down elsewhere in the country?
The answer was probably not.
As I type this at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 38 percent of voters opted for the simple Deluxe Edition (which also sold respectably in our store, despite the seemingly limited quantities). Trips to Target for the Rarities Edition on its own made just 14 percent of the vote (perhaps they too settled for a non-fan pack, since quantities were limited?), and only 9 percent of readers got the fan pack. The Best Buy-exclusive pack, with the interview disc, got the second highest percentage (27 percent) while the super deluxe box (with the LPs, DVD and a book) got only 11 percent of the voters' share.
What does all this mean? I'm not entirely sure. But I do think it means that somewhere, somehow, someone out there is paying attention to what it takes to sell catalogue titles, whether it's the promise of extra tracks, a t-shirt or both.