Since our last post on The Tim Burton/Danny Elfman 25th Anniversary Music Box, a lot more dirt has been kicked up regarding the box, its limited availability and opinions thereof.
It turns out that the "limited edition" of the box is very much like The Complete Elvis Presley Masters. (The only difference between editions of the Elvis set is one run has numbers, the other does not.) The first 1,000 copies of the Burton/Elfman set, it was semi-confirmed before all copies sold out, would have a certificate of authenticity. The sets that were presumably to be wholesaled by Amazon and the like would simply lack an extra piece of paper. No big deal, right?
Wrong. Way wrong. Box producer Richard Kraft sent a message to the Film Score Monthly message boards the day all 1,000 copies sold out with a few notes:
- As a result of the workmanship behind putting the behemoth box together, Warner Bros. will not ship the box out around December 21, as was previously announced, but around the first week of February 2011.
- The limited first run will feature a bonus 17th disc (of as-yet-undetermined content) signed by Elfman.
Now what kind of label decides to announce extra music in a limited set - not some paper goods or needless swag that jacks up the price of the set, but extra music, the entire point of a box set in the first place - once the set has sold out?
The delay is bad enough: say you go to a restaurant with a reservation for a specific time, only to discover upon arrival that - oops! - they can't accommodate you, and would you mind taking a different time instead? Whether you agree to a delay or not, you wonder why the restaurant couldn't prepare for said delay better. That's one major problem with the delay of the Burton/Elfman box. The Second Disc first reported on this set almost exactly five months ago, and an official track list and release date was up at the end of September. Given the excesses of the box - which you could probably fit a human head inside - couldn't there have been some more foresight?
To change the release date so close to the intended release date is annoying (not entirely new for fans these days), but that's only the injury. The insult is adding another disc to that first batch of copies after the fact, kind of a shifty, callow move by a label that should know better when it comes to box sets. How many people do you imagine are buying this
Something that's even more bothersome, and draws a larger, dangerous point about the catalogue soundtrack world, is how FSM users are reacting to those who are rightfully upset. Many of the people who bought this $500+ set went to Amazon to save money off the list price. Soundtrack collecting is an expensive hobby - collectors and producers both know that, and producers try to work around each others' release schedules whenever possible - and in these uncertain economic times, there's nothing wrong with wanting to shave off a little from the still-gargantuan price. Most posters, though, feel that those who ordered from Amazon, thereby missing an entire disc of music, got exactly what they deserved.
Now, to a degree, I get it. If you're a collector first and foremost (rather than a listener), you're mad. Your precious collector's piece loses its worth. So when Warner gives you something extra, you're satisfied, and woe to the others. It's nothing new. These are the same fans who have excoriated other labels this year for daring to repress certain sets so other fans could enjoy the music they love. Intrada came under fire for reissuing Varese's long-sold-out release of Predator (1987) earlier this summer (which sold out insanely quick once again), and Kritzerland was criticized for releasing one disc from an FSM box of Westerns as its own set. (Our friend and Kritzerland head Bruce Kimmel, who posts on the FSM boards as "haineshisway," was derided as a "malcontent" for pointing out that, since Amazon and other wholesalers were taking orders before the limited edition set sold out, there are at least a few buyers who are likely owed a bonus disc, since they theoretically bought a limited set.)
But the pack rat mentality shouldn't hold any water in the music world. Collecting is fine, but the end game for most fans - not to mention the entire purpose behind The Second Disc - is to draw attention to great music that people might not have noticed before. It'd be so easy to download this stuff illegally, but we usually don't, because we like the music and we like seeing it get released. The "chosen-few" nature of a box set of mostly spectacular music hurts the already-tenuous nature of the catalogue business. Music - even specialty music - shouldn't have to be made available to a lucky few with fast fingers and deep pockets. It should stick around for generations to enjoy. Before long this whole "limited edition" game is now threatening to topple over and soak the fans who want nothing more than to fall in love with some music.
Warner Bros. could have handled the Burton/Elfman box better, and we just have to live with that. (An autograph would have been a fine bonus for a limited set.) But if nothing else, we should take with us the realization that this game can't go on forever.