RECORD STORE TALES Part 188: “Limited Edition”
In 1994, Garth Brooks issued his 10 million copy selling compilation album, The Hits. On the front cover was an interesting notation: “limited time only”.
Now, I’ve bought discs that were limited edition before and were numbered to prove it. For example I recently picked up #5945 of the “Credo” single by Fish. Even so…that’s a lot of copies out there for a single by Fish. How many copies of a Fish single would be made anyway? And aren’t all singles limited edition? After all, they aren’t going to make more once they’ve run their course, no matter who the artist is. Onto the next thing.
And then of course you have some seriously limited edition items, like that recent Thin Lizzy Live at the BBC box set! I’m not sure how many copies were made, but everybody’s sold out, and now you have to buy it from people asking way too much. Over $250 USD on Amazon right now. Forget it! That is limited edition.
When Garth plastered “limited time only” all over The Hits, it quickly became a joke. We ordered 50 copies of them, and sold most during the first week. We ordered another 50 copies, as Christmas was coming soon. Those sold. We ordered 20 more after Christmas had passed, and continued to order them every week into the new year whenever we sold out. Some limited edition!
10,000,000 people bought it, and I’m sure 99.9% would have bought it without that “limited time” tag. With great pomp and circumstance, Garth then had the master tapes destroyed.
The master tapes to a freakin’ greatest hits album! Who cares?
It was really hard to take the phrase “limited edition” seriously after that. The next release that came out that truly was a limited edition was the Smashing Pumpkins box set The Aeroplane Flies High, but even that enjoyed a second run when the first printing sold out.
So: the lesson here folks is, when it says limited edition, be skeptical! Very few things are, and the ones that really are limited aren’t always advertized as such. Record labels want to make money, right?
Unfortunately, Garth didn’t put this one on his box set!
NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…
Hide the discs!
After 10,000,000 they should have destroyed Garth Brooks!
I always used to say that limited editions were limited to the number of people that wanted to buy it. I think now with vinyl repressings etc… you do get a lot more small-run releases that end up disappearing fast and then going for silly money on eBay. Never quite sure I see the sense in that because the label don’t make money from the resale. It bugs me when I miss out on releases just because I might not have the money RIGHT NOW and unless you buy straight away it’s gone.
Even then… a lot of these limited runs have a habit of being reissued later.
The Thin Lizzy Box really annoyed me cause it was fairly pricey in the first instance. At least give folk time to save up for the bloody thing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a copy of that anywhere and if I had time to get the funds I would have bought that for sure. So someone missed a sale there.
Time to get the funds was the whole thing! You can’t just splurge on stuff like that all the time.
About a year after that Garth Brooks collection came out, my cousins from Calgary were visiting my dad and I in Regina. Flipping through the newspaper, I stopped to scan an ad for a CD place. My cousins saw the Garth Brooks CD in the ad and flipped out – OMG, I can’t believe they have it, OMG, we have to go get it, OMG, we have to call the store and get them to set some aside for us so they don’t sell out before we get there!!!!! I tried telling them that it wasn’t a big deal, that CD was EVERYWHERE, but they were having none of it. So I called the music store, made the guy hold two CDs for them (he didn’t want to bother because they had probably 50 copies), and off we went. They got their CDs and were thrilled. So I dunno… maybe by “limited edition” Garth meant “limited within Calgary only?”
Garth has always been very shrewd with his catalogue. I remember when he did the double live album, he had 7 different album covers and encouraged fans to buy them all.
He also used to do “first editions” with a gold stamp on the cover.
I remember Tool’s ‘Salival’ saying Limited Edition when I held a copy in my hand in the HMV on Peel and Ste-Catharine in Montreal. And I thought “yeah right! It’ll be here when I have the funds and come back for it.” And when I went back it was gone. Gone gone gone gone gone. And now they’re expensive. Bugger, I really wanted that one (I love Tool). But when they said Limited Edition, they meant it!
Great example. I have that one. I was lucky enough to get it used in my store. We had a huge long waiting list. None of those people came in to pick it up! I wasn’t gonna let it hit the shelves, I had to have it.
You ever decide you don’t want it anymore, I will give cash monies for it.