Last week, there was a sort-of funny tempest in a teapot reported by The Los Angeles Times over pop singer Beyoncé’s latest album, 4. The paper reported that fans were unhappy with the seemingly low stock of deluxe editions of the album at Target, the chain that was carrying the special version exclusively, as well as problems with the bonus content (an online-exclusive music video, streamed through a special portion of the singer’s website when unlocked with the bonus disc) was not available for viewing until sometime during the weekend after the album’s June 28 release).
We could break down the non-controversy to make it look sillier than it already is, but the story raises an interesting side question in the name of catalogue sales. Since The Second Disc started about a year and a half ago, there have been a small handful of reissues with some sort of retail-exclusive component. Target and UMe paired together to offer the bonus disc of The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St.: Deluxe Edition as a standalone Rarities Edition (a nice gesture to anyone who didn’t want to buy the album again) as well as a cut-down version of Bob Marley’s Live Forever concert (likely to eliminate some of the tracks that were presented from “secondary sources”). A slight bonus DVD was offered with Wings’ Band on the Run expansion at Best Buy last winter; the chain also got temporary exclusives on deluxe editions by Derek and The Dominos and Rush this spring.
Meanwhile, on the new music front, retailers are always trying to pick up sales by offering exclusive deluxe editions of albums, free shirts with purchase of albums and various other tactics. (That doesn’t even touch on the various releases throughout the calendar year that are fully exclusive to a certain retailer.) Catalogue titles are so often given short shrift in big-box retailers – how many people even know that Target carries Legacy’s expanded edition of George Michael’s Faith, or that the Queen 40th anniversary remasters are found at Walmart stores here and there? – that it’s worth wondering how, if at all, fans would be affected by catalogue titles getting infused with retail-exclusive bonus cuts or other ephemera.
What do you think, readers?