Why So Many Box Sets?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Vaughan, Sep 15, 2021.

  1. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    It's a strange contradiction. On the one hand, physical media as total sales is falling. On the other, I can hardly keep up with all the box sets being released, and I'm only buying CD!

    We know CD is going the way of the Dodo, yet it seems that every week we get a release or announcement of some huge box set or other. It's relentless.

    So the question is, why are we seeing so many box sets now? Are they trying to get them all out before sales are down to zero? Is it the copyright expiration? Have they finally realized that fans want this stuff? Is it a desperate last spasm of an industry overcome by radical change?

    What happens to box sets moving forward? It's hard to imagine CD sales won't have bottomed out within the next couple of years - so what then? Will the box sets have shrunk to a more manageable size for Vinyl fiends (I suspect the new Dylan set is a victim of this). Will box sets eventually just go away?

    What are your thoughts on the origin of this period of time, and where it'll go next?

    Personally speaking, I don't think box sets work in a streaming world. The whole idea of a box set is to get you focused on a theme, a period of time, or a specific album. With streaming, you tend to jump in and out at the individual track level, and that's not very "box-like", imo.

    What say you?
     
  2. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glos, UK
    Because us idiots who could barely afford to buy an LP new in 1970 are now flush with cash and have little to spend it on, so are happy to fork out £150 for a 6CD version of the fourteenth album by Gnidrolog.
     
  3. Trashman

    Trashman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Box sets are aimed at an aging demographic that still prefers physical media. That aging demographic also tends to have more money than younger music fans. So they roll out these "ultimate," "super deluxe," and "uber" box sets to maximize the profit. The fact that we're now in the thick of 50th anniversaries for many classic rock albums also plays into the box set marketing.
     
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  4. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Yep, we keep buying them, so they'll keep releasing them, squeezing as much profit out of physical media as they can before it dies off.
     
  5. Tim 2

    Tim 2 MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Location:
    Alberta Canada
    " Why are we seeing so many box sets " The music industry found a new way to make money.
     
  6. OneMoreCupOfCoffee

    OneMoreCupOfCoffee Pamplemousse of Love

    Location:
    Howden, UK
    It feels like the final milking of the, ahem, purchaser of more advanced years with expendable income that still buys CDs. There's a reason why they are predominantly 50 year old albums. Which sounds bleak but I'm very happy with the Dylan sets, some of the Stones sets etc. I don't think it's going to last forever, as you say, when the sales of even these slow down the incentive has to be pretty slim in a streaming environment. Maybe we end up with a ton of Neil Young Archives type websites, but from what I understand even that is running at a loss with few competitors.
     
  7. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    I hear you, but then why wasn't it like this the whole time? It feels to me like they're coming in a deluge now, and I don't recall another time when we've had so many hitting every week or so. It seems to me something is different about this particular time.
     
  8. JohnJ

    JohnJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Are there anymore box sets that there were previously?

    as others have said, they are aimed at a certain demographic. There won’t be any interest in a deluxe 5cd set of Stormzey’s last record.

    A lot of people in their 50s and above have money to burn and nothing to spend it on.

    I bought a Mansun set last year, it’s epic, 20+ CDs, yet I don’t even have a CD play and I splashed £150 on it!!

    in 5/10/20/30 years the same releases will have different boxsets. There will be something new. I think the CD will still be the primary form of distribution for these, just that new releases of new music won’t use the CD.
     
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  9. Trashman

    Trashman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Because many labels have already given us multiple CDs reissues for the same classic albums. First were the single CD reissues (1980s), then the single CD remasters with a few bonus tracks (1990s), then the 2-3 disc expanded remasters with more bonus tracks, demos, and live tracks (2000s). Now we're in the era of 4-6 CD box sets. They keep ramping up what they offer, as they need to add new tracks to make us buy everything all over again.
     
  10. funkydude

    funkydude Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    The sale of 1 box set equals a couple million streams on Spotify in revenue So, yeah.....
     
  11. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Boxsets seem to be the only way CDs are flourishing at the moment.:)

    However, many of them are made in limited quantities so once they’re gone, that’s it.

    I don’t actually buy many boxsets now. I find I rarely play them and most are, if I’m honest, filled with stuff I have no particular interest in. The recent Elton John box is a good example of this. Of the 8 CDs included, 3 were of ‘deep cuts’ (album tracks I already have times over) and another 3 discs were of ‘demos and rarities’ (might play them once out of curiosity, I suppose). Needless to say, this box was an easy pass for me.:)

    Space is another factor. Some are cumbersome and bulky and if you take in the trend of including vinyl in the package (needless for me), thinks get even more bulky and expensive!
     
  12. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Perth Australia
    The question can be answered in one word:

    MONEY.

    Companies put out box sets because people (especially "collectors") will buy them, even at ridiculous prices.
    The phrase "I can hardly keep up with all the box sets being released" is the giveaway. You don't HAVE to keep up with anything, but some people are convinced that they must. If you have oney that you are willing to spend, there will always be someone willing to take it. Funny that.
     
  13. Alan2

    Alan2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I'd be happy with Gnidrolog boxed set.
     
  14. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Perth Australia
    Until the next box set release. But you have to buy that one too, because it's different from the first. Two new, previously unheard, "demo tracks", and the barely audible cough at 4:36 on track 11 has been removed.
     
  15. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    That's funny, but too close to the truth for me. I've always been interested in King Crimson, but not owned any significant number of CD's of their music. But when the huge boxes were announced, my interest was stirred and I thought, "if you're going to listen to Crimson, this is a good way to do it". So I bought all of the big boxes. I'm looking across the room right now, I can see nine of them on the shelves. It's all good, right?

    On the other hand - it's a monumental amount of music to have dumped on myself. A couple of the sets haven't even been opened! Only one set - Larks in Aspic - has been completely played. I've picked at some of the others, but I've not had time to do the deep dive they're made for. So if it makes you feel any better, I trump your £150 - I'm probably in for £1000 with Crimson. I swear, that will pay a dividend one day!!!
     
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  16. CharlieClown

    CharlieClown Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Yeah, I got a bit excited when I read that. FOMO immediately kicked in and I started panicking about where the best to pre-order from was…
     
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  17. OneMoreCupOfCoffee

    OneMoreCupOfCoffee Pamplemousse of Love

    Location:
    Howden, UK
    It's a good question. It feels like physical media as luxury product generally is getting more prevalent too. The number of bubblegum-swirl vinyl variants and so on. Reading threads of new albums, like the new Iron Maiden for example, there is a not-insignificant number of people buying the black vinyl, the deluxe CD, the super deluxe box and the coloured vinyl variants all for the same 10 tracks of music. It's exaggerated on a site like this but I don't recall it being such a thing in the past, and you see a lot of these items in high street shops so the market is bigger than niche website orders.

    The CD boxset of an album you already own, with some demos and live tracks and a hardbound book is another example. Labels cotton on to this. Look at the Stones' Goats Head Soup, the live album was already out there so the deluxe didn't offer huge amounts of new material, a single CD of a few new tracks, demos etc., admittedly a remix of the album too but a nice premium fee was charged. Resale values are massively high too, so there is an investment element too for the purchaser often, along with the panic factor for a limited edition.

    Physical media has migrated from the necessity of it to hear the music to more of a luxury thing. There's no way they need to charge £130 for the new Dylan set, which is 5 half full CDs. Look at the classic albums sets for how much you can really get that down to, £20? Add the book and the box and it's worth it to people at this stage in their lives. I've had discussions on this forum and people try to work out how much such a cost is worth it based on the impact of the music on their lives, which I understand, but that is what the labels are taking advantage of right now. And yes I've ordered the Dylan set. Still haven't listened to all of the Trouble No More set mind you...
     
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  18. healter skealter

    healter skealter Mullered

    Location:
    Penny Lane
    Because 99% of people buying physical media are only interested in repurchasing music they've already owned for decades, often in multiple formats. Truth be told, there are very few albums or artists who deserve the box set treatment- and some of those who do are being shoddily represented (see recent Sabbath boxes of crap).

    Anyway, 1st World Problem. Just say no.
     
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  19. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    I definitely don't feel I *have* to keep up. I'm genuinely interested in what I'm buying. Unlike some, I love to hear every cough, snippet, breakdown, demo etc. I even enjoy live performances that are record by the audience at bootleg quality if it's a good show and band. I know there are others who consider demos and such as "one listen" events, but I happen not to be one of those.

    In fact, I really enjoy all the junk too - the books, the posters, the tour programs, etc.

    Which is not to say I don't feel pressured by the "limited" nature of them, that's just the nature of the beast these days, sadly.
     
  20. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Some excellent points, thank you!

    Yeah, I'd forgotten about those who buy the CD box set, the Vinyl in one color, then another color, the Blu-Ray, and so on - of the same release! That's a whole other level of commitment to the cause of keeping physical media a thing in this streaming age. But quite why they choose to do this is a tad mysterious.

    That said, I can think of an example where it might make some sense. I mentioned those huge King Crimson boxes earlier, and in that case there was a two-disc set for the main albums as well. I wish I had those two disc sets at times. Dragging out a huge box to play Thrak, for example, can be a real pain. Better to just have the two-disc to hand. I could take the main albums out of the boxes, of course, but then the idea of a box with discs missing doesn't sit well with me. Stupid, I know......

    The half-full CD thing, I'm convinced, is a consequence of the Vinyl resurgence.
     
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  21. OneMoreCupOfCoffee

    OneMoreCupOfCoffee Pamplemousse of Love

    Location:
    Howden, UK
    I generally agree, but the thing that confuses me with the Dylan set in particular is that the none of the vinyl options are complete equivalents of the set, but rather 2 truncated versions which add up to not all of the CD set. It's all a bit odd. But that's drifting off topic.
     
  22. Supply and demand. Imagine how quickly there would be a change if a box set was announced and no one bought it...

    I do see it as the industry taking advantage while they still can. The demographic arguments above are pretty much spot on, I think. I can't see box sets being released 5 years from now.
     
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  23. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Are you trying to say there will be fewer members to this forum. :D

    I do think there are instances where the box sets exist simply for for the money. The Black Sabbath (so called) Super Deluxe sets are an example of that, imo. It's hard to imagine a more half-hearted effort to put together a celebration of an period in a bands history than those. On the other hand, the King Crimson sets are extraordinarily complete and lovingly conceived, as are the Jethro Tull's. The Be Bop Deluxe sets are great too, I never thought they'd get some TLC on the scale they have.

    I'll also add, some of the sets really are doing some great things. The plethora of Surround Sound mixes we have gotten is truly something else, and adds a lot of value, I think.
     
  24. JohnJ

    JohnJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    it was limited of course…

    I will get round to listening one day, especially as it’s the only way to hear a lot of the stuff in the box set - it would have been unfeasible to release on vinyl, both in terms of size and cost.

    The Mansun set in particular is very well put together, it has two books and lots of visuals to explore - and a dvd! Thankfully I still have a Blu-ray player somewhere…

    There are only 5-6 bands I would have paid that money for, and it’s not that much compared to 4-5 vinyl purchases.

    If I actually sat down and listened to 20+ CDs though, I wonder how long that would take - and makes to wonder, how much of this music on these boxsets never actually gets listened too?
     
  25. mishima's dog

    mishima's dog Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    There’s no question that there’s a generation of music fans who are growing up without ever feeling the need to buy physical media. It’s not clear to me though that, as they mature, they won’t want to have the music they love in physical form just as previous generations did. Even if it’s only so their friends can admire it when they come over.

    It’s human nature for people to want to own physical things. Of course in future it may be Billie Eilish and Ed Sheehan boxsets rather than Bowie and Dylan but that’s progress for you.
     

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