Rock anthem boxed sets are music to the ears of struggling industry


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The Independent Online


You've already got the album on vinyl, cassette and CD. It is downloaded on to your iPod. You may even have seen it performed live. So how does the record industry persuade the avid music fan to part with hundreds of pounds for a classic LP they may already have owned for up to 40 years?

The answer can be found this autumn in a slew of some of rock's most celebrated recordings set to be re-released as "super-deluxe" and even "uber-deluxe" box sets sporting price tags as gargantuan as the bands.

Despite the inexorable decline in CD sales, collectors are being urged to pre-order their favourite artists.

Yet while the long-awaited six-disc audio-visual "Immersion" box sets of Pink Floyd's classic 1970s albums, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall – which have sold more than 100 million copies between them – will cost only a meagre £88, other collections are commanding much higher prices.

A forthcoming 20th anniversary set of U2's 1991 album Achtung Baby is for sale on some US websites for $589.99 (£369). For that, dedicated fans get a limited numbered edition in a magnetic puzzle-tiled box, six CDs, DVDs and a 92-page hardback book.

The next few months will see the launch of super-deluxe anniversary box sets of Nirvana's grunge overture Nevermind, as well as a Quadrophenia super-deluxe box set by The Who.

Deluxe box sets and remastered classics have been around since the 1990s, when record companies began looking at digitising back catalogues and unearthed quantities of potentially marketable background material. But the latest crop of re-releases comes against a bleak outlook. Last year music revenues fell by £189m.

Even more worryingly, the number of new artists breaking through fell to an all-time low, while even revenue from stadium concerts, which has previously helped supplement the fall in physical sales, fell back.

But Adam Liversage, director of communications with BPI, which represents the music industry, said the previous success of the super-deluxe format proved fans liked them. "It gives a really good insight into how the record was made – especially if you have demo recordings included."

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason told Rolling Stone magazine the new formats offered something genuinely different and worthwhile to fans.

"I really think that this could be the last chance for really nice packaging – boxes, books, the whole thing," he said.