Box set: how true fans listen to music

In October 2017, the world's largest box set was released - 356 CDs with recordings by the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan. The musician was actively involved in the development of digital sound recordings, in particular, on CDs.

In total, during his career, he made more than 800 records - more than any other conductor. The box set includes all these records, hence the timing at 405 hours. Today we will talk about what are the box sets and for whom they are created.

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Record Timers

For classical music, large-scale box sets are not uncommon. The history of boxing set “The History of Classical Music” took 100 CDs with a total time of 120 hours, and
Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete discography fits into 157 CDs. One of the buyers noted that he had acquired a box set for the sake of the composer’s little-known works.

Often the box set covers only one of the periods of the artist's work, but with this approach a lot of material is obtained. For example, the Pink Floyd Early Years box set includes only materials recorded by the group from 1965 to 1972, and consists of 27 discs.

In addition to the previously released songs, the box set includes demos, live versions, unpublished songs, as well as video interviews, concerts and films. Music itself takes up only half of the total 25-hour timekeeping. However, some owners of the collection believe that many entries in the collection are superfluous.

7 years on 27 discs - this is not the limit. Only two years (1965-1966) of Bob Dylan's work took 18 discs, and records from his 1966 concert tour - 36 discs.


"From unpublished"

Other box sets are designed to streamline the artist's discography. This is especially true of the works of those performers who were popular in the 20th century. Then the same song could become a hit and not go out with the album. For example, the first single by Elvis Presley on the RCA label, "Heartbreak Hotel", released in 1956, first hit the album only in 1958. And the song "Suspicious Mind" had to wait for the album to hit from 1969 until 1984. In order to avoid confusion, the songs were arranged in chronological order in the Elvis Presley - The Album Collection box set.

In general, box sets rarely revolve around album entries. In 1997, the Doors group box set of four discs was released, on which 75% of the material are unpublished recordings: concert and demo versions. The collection became platinum with a million sales. Unpublished material can be piled up a lot - for example, it took 22 CDs to release rare and previously unpublished records of the American violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin.

The Beatles group recorded their debut albums in monophonic versions - in the early 1960s, stereo sound was not yet standard. The Beatles in Mono box set consists of mono versions of studio albums up to The Beatles (1968) inclusive. The recordings went through a remastering process, during which the sound engineers got rid of noise and noise. Buyers are satisfied : some are delighted with the fact that they hear even an echo in the studio, others - from the new sound of some songs.

In addition to music: what else is put in the cherished boxes

Some box sets include other items besides CDs or records with records - t-shirts, badges, posters, and other fan attributes. This is the box set for the album “Will to Power” released by the group Arch Enemy. The collection "Will to Power Deluxe" includes two records, two discs, as well as posters, postcards, stickers, a patch for clothing and slipmat.

And in the already-mentioned box set “Elvis Presley - The Albums Collection” the creators put a calendar, which marked important dates in the life of Elvis. John Jackson (John Jackson), vice president of Legacy Recordings, believes that fans will be delighted with such trifles.

This year came the “Halloween” box set with Frank Zappa notes. In addition to the three CDs with music and a flash drive with records in 24-bit WAV, it includes a fancy dress in the style of Zappa himself.

Box sets can also be issued as a congratulation by fans on some holiday. The Beatles from 1962 to 1969 each Christmas released Christmas releases for members of the fan club. They included greetings, words of gratitude, as well as holiday songs. The song Christmas Time (Is Here Again) was first published on such a Christmas record of 1967.

In 1970, all seven records were combined into a set that was available, again, only to members of the fan club. And in December 2017, anyone can already buy a box set. True, fans believe that the price of $ 73 per 41 minutes of material that their parents received for free, being members of a fan club, is greatly overestimated.

Gene Simmons from the Kiss group, in an effort to please the fans, went even further. He released the Gene Simmons: The Vault Experience box set with 150 previously unreleased songs, unpublished photos in a separate photo album, a Simmons figure, a gold medallion with the inscription In Gene We Trust and another surprise item.

This edition will cost $ 2,000, but two options are of the greatest interest. The first is a box set with delivery from Simmons himself. If you are ready to pay 50,000 dollars, the musician will bring it to you at home and give it personally. And for $ 25,000, you can spend an hour in the studio with Simmons.

Who needs box sets anyway?

Of course, box sets are not designed for the average music lover - they are bought by big admirers of this or that artist. Basically, this is an adult audience, which has a sense of nostalgia. It is really important for them to be as close as possible to the musician, including through the initial versions of songs. The managing director of the Universal Music Catalog, Richard Hinkley, says that box sets are not old stuff in a new wrapper, no one would have bought them with this approach. It is rather an opportunity to talk about the musician's work from a different angle.

Hinckley identifies two types of box sets, covering a specific period of the artist. The first is a collection of materials that allows you to peek into the studio and plunge into the process of recording songs. That was The Beatles' Sgt Pepper box set. And the anniversary release of “Joshua Tree” of the U2 group is the second type of box set that appeals to the emotional background around the release. In addition to the “album” versions of the songs, it includes live recordings, demos and remixes, as well as an 84-page album of photos from the photo shoot for the album cover.

A young audience also buys box sets. According to another managing director of the Universal Music Catalog, David Rowe, it’s absolutely normal for young fans to first listen to the artist’s album through streaming services and then buy it on physical media. But for this, it is necessary that the publication on a physical medium should contain something unique, for which it would really be worth buying it. It turns out that even in the era of music streaming, box sets are too early to be written off, as are releases on physical media in general.

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