Black Collar Workers



at the gates reissueEarache head-honcho Digby Pearson recently penned a column on his “straight talk” blog Ask Earache about why labels put out so many re-issues. If you’re at all familiar with Earache you know full well that they’ve been completely re-issue crazy over the past several years, putting out what seems like a dozen re-issues each of albums by At the Gates, Godflesh, Carcass, etc, so an explanation from the man behind the curtain himself is quite telling:

The truth is that re-issues offer labels a quick and relatively risk-free boost to their income. They do pretty good business, and we don’t really know why- maybe its because the casual fan always wants great value before they spend their hard earned money, which is fair enough. In our experience, the diehard fan buys it for the music, the casual fan waits for a 2xCD great value package to appear. Over the course of an album’s release cycle, we try to cater to both.

Candor! Of course there are some other added benefits that you might not have thought of:

Actually there are 2 distinct types of re-issues on Earache, and the motivation to do them is different in each case. 1) Numerous old ‘classic’ bands from Earache’s early period have reformed recently – Sleep, Brutal Truth, Godflesh, Carcass, At The Gates etc – mostly they have reactivated themselves as headliners to take advantage of the lucrative modern-day touring circuit which rewards bands now much more than when the bands split up.Consequently their back catalog deserves an audio spring clean and EQ boost to suit the tastes of the modern metal audiences for whom every extreme metal band nowadays must boast a crushingly loud production to be taken seriously and 2) upcoming bands – say Evile, Municipal Waste- who simply need a boost of sales to give their career a shot in the arm.

In the case of newer bands, most of the music business still ranks and rates bands on the number of CDs sold via ye olde recorde shoppes, known in the USA as Soundscan. A cleverly-timed re-issue (say round a highly visible tour supporting a major act) can give a newbie band a much needed spike in Soundscan numbers. The aim is to persuade fans to make a purchase, this will make agents, promotors and festival organisers take notice of a new act.

So there you go. If you’re one of the grumpy gusses who always complain about the multitude of deluxe or re-mastered re-issues, like me, then stop buying them. There’s clearly a market for them. And hey, if Earache can pad their bank account with 10,000 unit sales without the recording and marketing costs associated with a new release, that’s more money they can put into developing new bands. Which is great, as long as they aren’t re-thrash.


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