Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Congratulations, you're hired!

For the next 5 minutes you're all employees of Big Scary Monsters Recording Company. Your job title is 'Marketing Assistant', which is fairly self-explanatory I think, but just to confirm: you're assisting with marketing. Sound good? Good. You're not getting paid.

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday thinking about compilations. I really enjoy releasing those things. Over the past few years we've done a whole number of them on BSM and they serve as great pointers to showcase our catalogue "through the ages" if I can use that phrase without sounding like a horrible television commercial for a 20 CD box set of Great Driving Anthems? We've released CDs in cardboard slipcases and fully packaged jewel cases. We've sold some very cheaply (around £3), we've sold some for a little bit more (£6) and we've given a couple away for free (£0). We even released a compilation dedicated entirely to Swedish music. It sounded brilliant but that didn't translate to sales as one would hope.

The problem with compilations is that nobody buys them anymore. Shops very rarely stock any and unless the content of the disc is nearly all new and exclusive (which is a difficult thing to achieve), people likely already own/can easily find the tracks elsewhere. As Marketing Assistant, here's your first task:

Tell me what we can do to make compilation CDs exciting again.

I really want to release the Winter Collection on CD this year and have a great lineup in mind but don't have the space to sit on (literally, looking at the number of boxes in here already) 1000 un-sold units. How should it be packaged? Would people prefer it in a handmade, cleverly crafted sleeve? Would that be enough to make you purchase? What about cost? What price would you pay for a 15 track BSM sampler CD? £4? Maybe just £1 if you purchase it at the same time as anything else from the store? Or would you only be interested if it was free? Be honest. What if it was in a package with something else, for example, a t-shirt? A t-shirt and a CD for £10? How about if it was an enhanced CD and featured 15 audio tracks and 10 videos? The videos can all be found on Youtube anyway, but would the fact that these play in better quality and could be added to your iPod offer any appeal?

Leave any ideas and opinions in the comments (you don't need to be a member to post, by the way) or email me at bsmrocks@googlemail.com - I'm really interested to know your views on this one.


Front Room Records said...

I think it all depends on what tracks are on the compilation.
For instance if there were already 3-4 tracks that I owned from the BSM catalogue I’m unlikely to purchase them again, regardless of other content.
As for packaging I’m always a sucker for the home made "limited edition" cardboard sleeves etc
Also I like the idea of having videos included would be a nice touch to have them iPod compatible as well.
Ne who just my opinions



Kev said...

Thanks Tom, that's really useful. So you find that the tipping point of how many tracks you already have is quite low? What if there were 4 tracks you already owned but 10 (albeit mostly by new bands you might not have heard before) you don't, would you be tempted to purchase?

Front Room Records said...

Yeah i guess so; i've got to say i own and love quite a few compilations. I think i've got the complete Fat Wreck Chords volumes etc

So if there are a few bands i've heard of (and like) on the cd i guess it would help to persuade me to get the compilation.

In the end i guess its finding the right balance between curent fav's and new bands, but you're never going to be able please everyone.



Anonymous said...

To be honest; if you were offering the compilation for free, I'd take it! I'd do it! I'd be mine, at once!

If you were asking me to pay - that narrows my chance of taking it. Like you said, I can get most of the songs elsewhere, on full releases - but that's not stopped me buying compilations in the past.

The decider for me on compilations is primarily a combination of price, tracks and personal mood.

I'd see them placed at a cheaper price-point than a normal album because whilst you might recognise a few artists or track on there, you're not guarenteed that same quality on t'other tracks. The tracks you do recognise are ones you're most likely going to own already - and you're just buying the compilation on the off chance that you'll hear some other songs that you might like and discover some new bands to get into.

What is nice is that you get it free or cheaper if you buy something else from the BSM store. It has to be forced though - like it would be nice to see a seperate screen on the order page. I know this is probably creating too much work, but if I add stuff to the basket and go to buy, I would get redirected to a page which had said special offer on there "You're elegible to receive BSM Compilation X for £1 extra on your purchase. That's 15 extra tracks on a lovely CD for just £1!" - something to that effect, with a lovely picture of the CD artwork and maybe a preview of tracks. And the all-important 'Add to Cart' button.

But that's all marketing lark.

What is important for compilations that I intend to purchase is that:

a) there are some artists or tracks on there i recognise. better still, tracks by artists that i won't find anywhere else, that are unique to that compilation. Selling-point.com. (no dot)

b) that they're not too expensive. i really like that BSM sells the compilation for cheaper if you're buying stuff from the store than what it would be if you're buying the compilation alone.

c) i get influenced by reviews. if someone gave your compilation hot reviews - blogs, newspapers, zines, magazines, etc, etc - i'd be wanting to buy it. or at least pirate it, and then decide to buy.

...speaking of which. what could work is if you gave away a digital version for free, but make a nice special limited edition packaged version. Make sure everyone who download the free version knows that the limited edition version is available to buy, and it's limited, and it's a real physical copy that looks nice.

I don't know. Excuse my messy ramblings, Kev. I've just drank hardcore coffee. I don't drink coffee.

Kev said...

Coxy, I think I'm gonna have to start paying you a wage to come to Oxford and just unleash your thoughts for me! Always full of good ideas and information.

I really like the idea of releasing the compilation for free digitally and as a limited CD, and it's something I was actually planning on doing next year starting with the Spring collection. For the Winter 08 collection, however, I wanted to do something a little bit bigger. It's to mark the end of the year so wanted to use 3 times as many tracks as usual and really go for it. Problem is, just because I want that, it doesn't mean anyone else will be up for it!

We're updating the shop soon actually so adding a function in, similar to the one you suggested, will be very possible. I'm going to be offering bespoke promotions to people based upon how much they spend, how frequently they return etc too.

Keep drinking that coffee!

Paul said...

I like the idea of the compilation being part of a tshirt/poster package or being enhanced with special photos/interviews/videos.

chris said...

Packaging is definately the key. Have a quick looky on the interwebs for the thursday/envy split. I think maybe making them limited edition would be a good idea.

I think original tracks would be a good idea aswell. Not necessarily new songs maybe acoustic versions of their own songs or get everyone to cover each others songs. Or maybe do a versus album with another record label again with covers.

I just dont think your rosta of bands and albums is big enough to put out just an album of songs that are on existing releases because there are prob a core of people (myself included) who own almost everything youve put out so why would they buy a compilation that only has 1 maybe 2 tracks they dont own?

Not sure about the videos idea, seems a bit too much like a gimmick and im not sure many people will really care.

Kev said...

Interesting points, Chris. Getting all of the bands together to record covers or something is another thing I've been planning for a couple of years now but never get around to organising. It could certainly add something to an otherwise standard compilation.

On this subject, I've been sent a recording of members of Blakfish and Colour singing a lounge version medley of Tubelord songs down the phone to the 'Lord last week. It's pretty amazing! It has "Sampler CD bonus content" written all over it!

tom said...

exclusive tracks are where it's at for me. bought that record schmecord one primarily for the ttng track you can't get anywhere else. i'm not sure but i think it was four quid? anyway i wouldn't normally pay that for the one song but the 10 or so others that i might like on there made the purchase worth it. definitely like the idea of a reduced price with another purchase, that would get me buying. also, the idea of some sort of halfway house between standard label sampler and unsigned bands showcase (eg 6machine) would definitely interest me

Kev said...

Cheers Tom. I wish we had more exclusive tracks we could use like that TTNG one but everyone is quite limited unfortunately. There was one song left over from the 'Animals' recording session. It was the first they wrote for the album but the recording didn't come out as well as hoped so was left off. Hopefully that will see the light of day sometime, possibly on a compilation.

If we do get this comp out - in one form or another - there'll be at least 3 or 4 unsigned bands on there. I've got a lineup in my head which I think is a really nice mix of established and new bands, and it could be our best tracklisting yet!

Keal said...

I'm liking the idea of the enhanced content stuff.

Maybe you can have a mix of videos of the artists tracks and maybe some videos made by the bands themselves? Like a small tour diary or a live performance of another song other than the one already on the CD. Dunno if that would work or if anyone would actually like it though.

Could sell that for like £5-10 possibly and then include it in deals for slightly less. So if you spend a tenner you get the CD for £4?

Kev said...

I've been planning a BSM DVD for about 3 years now which would include a few tour diaries and things. Some of it we already have recorded and ready to go, just never got around to organising the rest of the content unfortunately. That's my one worry about putting too much video footage on this CD. If it all goes on here no on will care when (or if) the DVD eventually comes out. I would like to get some of it on there though, just need to find the middle ground I guess

chris said...

Personally i would much rather see a dvd than random footage on a cd.

Infact i would rather see a dvd than another compilation.

Kev said...

Me too, Chris. Problem is I don't think we'll be able to get the DVD sorted in time. Hopefully next year (although I've been saying that since about 2004!)

Ed Cresdee said...

exclusive tracks are great. not necessarily new songs though, maybe like b-sides from rare singles. that idea about acoustic versions of songs is cool too.

i think the compilation prices are fine at the moment, around £3. i'm not that bothered about packaging though. split compilations with other labels are great aswell.

Anonymous said...

I think limited editions are the way to go. Make them unique and rare and we'll generally be sucked in.

cassette said...

The problem with lot's of compilations is that as said before they are mainly just a collection of tracks that any die hard fan of the label already has. If these compilations are intended as samplers for people who might not know all the stuff the label has to offer then thats cool but it's kind of a fine line between sampler and compilation. a different angle is always going to generate more interest from fans of the label, stuff like b-sides, rarities, acoustic versions, demo versions, live versions or alternate recordings are always going to go down well, even something like what green day and the offspring did on tour a few times (when they were still vaguely cool) like covering eachothers tracks, I don't know about everyone else but I'd love to hear something like blakfish covering meet me in st louis or this town needs guns covering secondsmile. a free BSM logo badge would be a nice added bonus with any sampler and the tubelord concept of individual artwork for each copy is an awesome idea. anyways, hope this ramble made some sense :)

Sunny said...

I appreciate its hard to get exclusive tracks but what if you were to get live recordings of songs? Or covers? I'd love to hear the Blakfish boys do their rendition of another song. It might not necessarily be possible with touring commitments, but they're ideas nonetheless.

Also, what is the maximum amount of tracks you can get on a CD? Are you saying 15 because theres only 15 bands you see fit to include or is it disc space? If you were to have a compilation with loads of tracks on by a vast array of artists I would be more inclined to buy it.

Maybe you could go around each part of the UK and select the best upcoming artist to put on a compilation? Along with faithful BSM favourites?

In An Emergency Dial

simon8at said...


Pretty late post! Guess it won't make a winter compilation, but I made some acoustic recordings of Tubelord, Tall ships, Jeniferever, Xcerts, Wise Children... if interested. I did the sessions in December for my uni radio station (surge)


If you want better quality just email me at set106@soton.ac.uk