Monday, August 31, 2009

An interesting perspective on greatest hits collections

It was a throwaway line, and not necessarily germane to Stereogum's discussion of a Foo Fighters greatest hits collection, but it got me thinking nonetheless.

While they were more of a necessity in the pre-MP3 era, Greatest Hits collections will be around as long as music needs marketing.

This is another example (perhaps it belongs in my Empoprise-BI business blog) of the way in which people in different eras will think of things differently. People of my age still refer to "record stores," and still think of times when albums had two sides. (When I released the Ontario Emperor MP3 "Digital Judge," I purposely designed it to consist of three, rather than two, sections. No one cared.) And if we wanted to collect all of the best songs of an artist on a, "record," we'd have to shell out money and buy something that"record" company offered to us.

But now we have the power to assemble our own greatest hits collections by buying and downloading individual songs. And these collections can be suited to our own personal tastes - if I don't like "Philadelphia Freedom," I can leave it off my Elton John collection. Similarly, if I want to throw "Stairway to Heaven" onto my Elton John collection, I have the power to do so.

So what purpose do corporate-produced greatest hits serve? Well, for one thing, there are still a lot of people (admittedly, myself included) that don't download a whole bunch of music. For another thing, it allows the artist to mark a milestone - "I guess I had a career; Sony was able to cobble together a greatest hits collection."
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