A Plea To Record Labels: When Will The Deluxe Editions Stop?

Dan Gibson | October 7, 2008 3:00 am

Universal Music, friend of the consumer, announced a deluxe edition of Colbie Caillat’s debut Coco today; eight additional tracks will be tacked on this new version of the album, which was originally released in July 2007. These “expanded” or “reloaded” or “deluxe” editon discs have been going on for awhile now, and it’s really time for the labels to stop it, or possibly for people everywhere to just stop buying new releases until they’re absolutely sure they’re getting the final, finished product.

Largely because I’m the sort of jackass who gets most of his music for free, it’s not terribly often that I head out to a retail store to buy a new release. But earlier this month, I bought Ne-Yo’s Year of the Gentleman from iTunes. However, now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have bothered. Not because the disc isn’t great–it’s probably the most enjoyable thing I’ve listened to this year–but because in six months or so, Ne-Yo will have a song on a soundtrack or in a commercial and I bet you that his label will tack it and a few other new songs on to a deluxe edition, so customers can experience the joy of paying for the music they bought last month all over again. If there isn’t a bigger “screw you, fan” move out there, I’m not sure what it is.

According to Soundscan, the Colbie Caillat disc has sold 1.78 million copies in the United States. A lot of those people probably feel like suckers, having heard “Bubbly” on the radio and decided to go ahead and cough up the extra cash for the entire album instead of just grabbing the single on iTunes. To thank all those customers for their devotion to an artist in a time when 1.78 million scans for an album by any artist is a pretty significant achievement, Universal says, “Hey, unless you pay up now, you’ll miss out on some covers, Colbie’s duet with Latin artist Juanes, and her song from the Olympics.” Shouldn’t the process work in reverse?

The truly ridiculous thing is that the digital era should have put a stop to this. How difficult would it be to release the extra music as an EP on its own? That way everyone wins (at least, everyone who needs an acoustic version of “Bubbly” in their lives.) That’s the way Coldplay is addressing the Jay-Z remix of “Lost”, and it really makes the most sense. Sure, there’s a premium for the new music, but it’s a hell of a lot better than asking people to buy the same twelve tracks they purchased once again for the sole purpose of adding a few additional novelties to their iTunes library. Music executives, I get that having some respect for those funding your houses in the Hamptons isn’t really the bi’sz M.O., but you could at least try to wean yourselves from the most ridiculously brazen offenses.

Colbie Caillat Expands Debut Album [Billboard]