I happened to hear on the CBC today that Diana Krall has a new compilation album out called The Very Best of Diana Krall. I’m not a fan, but it got me thinking about ‘best of’ albums, why they’re made and how they’re marketed.
I didn’t think for very long, because I decided that I know almost nothing about the subject. Presumably these albums aren’t targeted at dedicated fans, because they already own almost all the tracks from their original releases.
Just Some Demos I Recorded in My Basement
I say ‘almost’ because the compilation album usually includes one or two token ‘previously unreleased’ songs, which are obviously there entice the loyal fan who wants to own everything by their favourite artists (I’m reminded of an old Barenaked Ladies song). iTunes, PureTracks et al have changed this practice, enabling fans to only purchase the 10% of the music that they don’t already own. That said, I’m guessing that most Diana Krall fans will still be buying CDs as opposed to downloading music.
One way to get fans to buy compilation CDs is to pair them with another whole CD of previously unreleased material. I remember that the 10,000 Maniacs did this, and I bought in. Did I get real value for my money? Probably not, but I was pleased to hear 14 new songs (or versions of songs) that I hadn’t heard before.
Assuming it isn’t existing fans, who buys compilations? I’m so out of tune with the music buying patterns of the average adult that I have very little idea. How do people over thirty buy music these days? Do they go to HMV or Walmart with particular CDs in mind? Do they decide ‘I’m going to buy a CD today’, and then peruse the store aisles for something that strikes their fancy? Do they usually visit the artist’s website first?
How do you shop for music? Do you buy compilations? I’m less interested to hear from the iTunes and Music users of the world, and more keen to hear from people who walk into bricks and mortar stores and walk out with shiny plastic discs.
On a vaguely related note, while watching season one of “Heroes”, I was reminded once again of how Ms. Krall and Ali Larter were separated at birth.