Confused About ‘Nostradamus’

A while back I talked about how we could learn a lot from Trent Reznor’s distribution models for his past two releases ‘Ghosts I-IV’ and ‘The Slip’. Especially ‘Ghosts I-IV’ since it introduced a tiered level of purchasing from free all the way to a $300 uber-fan edition. I liked the creativity and insight behind this business model but did caution that it seemed to prey upon the most devoted fans, who would sign in blood to acquire the ‘biggest & best’ version of their favorite artists releases. If you really care you can read the whole brilliantly constructed analysis HERE.

Jump forward to today, when Judas Priests’ latest new release ‘Nostradamus’ hit the stores. Like a good husband, I went out to get my wife a copy at lunch as this is her all-time favorite band in the world. Researching the release on Amazon.com, I soon found there would be two versions available; a standard 2 disc set and a deluxe set that also included a 40 page hardbound book. That’s according to Amazon.com – only the largest retail outlet in the world.

At Best Buy, I find that both versions are available and even on sale (how thoughtful!). The ‘deluxe’ edition was marked down to $24.99, which seemed to me to be a do-able amount for the book et al. so I went with that. Nothing’s too good for me lady. But while in line, I noticed the guy in front of me with a HUGE box, with the very same Nostradamus artwork that I was holding in my grubby paw. So I enquired what he had there, and was dismayed to hear he had the last copy of a SUPER deluxe edition, available only at Best Buy.

Yep, same book and discs as I was getting plus 3 vinyl records (of the same songs on the CD’s) and a limited edition poster. Ok, so nothing I couldn’t live without (especially at $70) and obviously I hadn’t been to the OFFICIAL Judas Priest page or I’d have known about option 3. Shame on me.

However, in these days of dwindling record company profits does it make any sense to only advertise a product on a band’s website, and only make it available at one retailer? I mean, I listen to literally hundreds of groups across many different genres – am I supposed to make ALL of them my friend on Myspace in order to know what new products they have available?

So this goes back to my original concern with Reznor’s model; are we forcing bands to become too dependent on their hardcore fanbase, at the exclusion of the more casual fan? Don’t get me wrong, I have some very limited edition stuff that I cherish from some of my favorite groups – I merely question how this information gets disseminated in the first place and if potential sales aren’t being lost by keeping the releases exclusive. Does it make sense to benefit the third party resellers on Ebay over the band?

I don’t know the answer, I’m just asking the question. To me, Reznor’s model is brilliant – but it ain’t necessarily perfect. And it might not work for everyone. Time will tell us, won’t it?

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