Record Industry Hoping To Boost Sales By Reminding People Of Albums They Already Own

Maura | March 8, 2007 - 3:49 am

200px-Original_We%27re_Only_in_It_for_the_Money_front_cover.jpgYesterday, we were peppered with e-mails about the Definitive 200, a list of albums that share the common trait of being bought by a lot of people. But as we found out this morning, this list is more than an opportunity for bloggers to moan about Supernatural’s popularity–it’s a marketing ploy!

The National Assn. of Record Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame unveiled a list of 200 albums that belong in everybody’s CD collection titled the Definitive 200 that will be used as a marketing tool at big box outlets (Wal-Mart, K mart, Best Buy), chain music shops (Virgin, Trans World outlets), indie CD stores (Cheap Thrills in new Brunswick, N.J.*, J&R in New Yok, Newbury Comics in Boston, Zia in Phoenix, Ariz., and Waterloo in Austin, Texas) and online sites (Amazon, Overstock). Campaign is starting with 75 retailers signed up.

The list has the usual suspects — the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” are the top three — but unlike most album lists, this one was compiled by retailers.

The goal, NARM president Jim Donio said at the ceremony in Capitol studio A, was “to highlight music that has enduring popularity among fans. This is to celebrate the album” in an era when downloads and sales of singles are beginning to decimate the classic album. (For the full list go to

Unlike lists compiled by critics, musicians, magazines or Web sites, the Definitive 200 is full of albums everyone has heard of and, instead of showing a historical bias, 81 of the discs were released between 1990 and 2004.

What makes us roll our eyes is the idea that this “campaign”–which seems to be, in sum, a slapped-together roll call of recent platinum albums and a bunch of standalone displays–will somehow invigorate record sales. There are two reasons that there’s no way this will happen: First of all, most of the albums on the list have reached their sales-saturation point–and unless you’re adding bonus discs, the “buy another copy of your favorite album” sleight-of-hand won’t work, especially at stores like the Trans World outposts, which are still clinging to the idea that people want to shell out $18.99 for a CD. Second of all, why would merchandisers want to trick the few people who are still actually visiting record stores into buying Pieces Of You (No. 64) or Human Clay (No. 95)? Are they expecting a high proportion of sales from people who want to be on I Love The ’90s IV, or are they really that backward-looking and clueless? Wait, don’t tell us.

* UPDATE: A bunch of commenters are informing us that Cheap Thrills is actually closed, and has been for years. Which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense, as far as the forward-thinking nature of this project.

Definitive 200 []
Classic albums celebrated [Variety]