Discussion: Greatest Hits Going the Way of the Dodo?

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November 2, 2008

There’s a big article in Billboard this week about how Rascal Flatts are hoping to dodge the downward trend that recent hits collections have been experiencing.   Their attempt to do so was to add a bonus CD of three Christmas songs to their optimistically titled Greatest Hits Volume 1.

Didn’t help much.  The set is predicted to bow with sales below 100k.    A bunch of industry insiders are claiming that in the new download era, greatest hits projects no longer serve a purpose in the minds of record buyers.

I don’t know if I agree.  What do you think?

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  1. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    I do think hits compilations are probably on their way out. I’m guessing older record buyers will still go for them, but younger-minded consumers won’t. Aside from most consumers probably not wanting every single hit, those looking for a historical overview of an artist’s career have other options available now – iTunes’ “Essentials” feature comes to mind.

  2. ChadNo Gravatar says:

    I do think I agree. I know the last few “greatest hits” I’ve bought I’ve been disappointed by after the fact. I’ve always been a album/CD kind of guy (and really loyal to certain artists). Unless the jacket information is really great, I think I’m going to have to pass on the compilation CDs from now on (as evidenced by my question on the Reba post last week).

    I love supporting my favorite artists, but it does come down to economics (esp in these times) when I’ve already have all of the hits from an artist.

    Most of the other greatest hits I own are from artists who I didn’t love enough to buy their entire catalogue so I waited for a compilation. Now, I usually wait to get a great deal on amazon.com downloads for the entire CD or just buy songs here and there.

  3. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    I think that the download age has ‘torpedoed’ the sales for everything, not just “Greatest Hits.” Honestly, iTunes is probably a direct result of this with their insistence of ‘a la carte’ style downloads. While this has been great for us as consumers (because we can just buy the tracks we want and not a whole album), it might also kill the album concept on the whole.

    Record labels are probably as much to blame about the ‘doom’ of the LP or CD for their insistence to not embrace technology before people, mainly those 16-35 or so, learned how easy it was to download music. These people then loved the economics of it (free) because the labels thought it was just a few. Then, when they decided to do something about it, they wanted DRM on CDs to prevent them from being downloaded onto computers and also sued their consumers. What company directly sues the consumer?

    As for Rascal Flatts’ CD itself, the thing wasn’t going to sell with ‘just’ 3 christmas songs and missing a lot of their hits. Hell, the label could easily ‘pull a Curb” and release ANOTHER hits project next year with the singles missing from this one along with 4-5 new songs.

  4. AaronNo Gravatar says:

    I agree that Greatest Hits cd’s are basically useless in our time. With websites like iTunes and Rhapsody, it’s extremely easy to download an artist’s hits without having to purchase an entire album. To me, record companies adding 2 or 3 new songs onto a Greatest Hits cd isn’t enough to persuade me to buy the cd especially when I can go to those mentioned sites to download the new songs individually.

    I agree with Chad on the fact that if you love an artist enough to purchase a greatest hits cd, then you should already have their hits in your song collection. However, if you’re a die hard fan of an artist, then you’re most likely going to purchase the cd. I know for me, if Carrie Underwood released a greatest hits cd I’d definitely purchase it! I’m just that big of a fan! I think that’s why some hits collections, like the Flatt’s, sell a somewhat considerable amount of copies.

    I think record companies need to realize that the age of hits compilation cds is done and over with and they should stop wasting their money and time releasing them. I mean, are dismal sales not enough of a reason?? Even superstars like Tim McGraw and, apparently, Rascal Flatts can’t even yield stellar sales numbers with their hits compilations. I say they should just give up, and if they want to continue releasing these types of albums, maybe they should come up with a better way to spark some consumer interest.

  5. Chris D.No Gravatar says:

    The only thing that helps Greatest Hits sets is brand new studio tracks, that aren’t Christmas, and RF doesn’t even have that. I would never buy a set without brand new tracks, and even then, I just download the new ones.

  6. MarcNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never been much into Greatest Hits.. though judging by the CD collection I’m ripping for a friend… it’s all some people buy.

  7. ScottNo Gravatar says:

    Hard to say. They’re being produced just as much as ever, and I think some fans will always want them, but it does seem like sales of them are down.

    Let’s stir up a hornet’s next and aSk Tim McGraw what he thinks LOL

  8. Chris N.No Gravatar says:

    Can anyone explain to me why artists always say a greatest-hits album is a way of “saying ‘thank you’ to our fans”? A lifetime as a music fan and a decade (or so) as a music journalist, and I still don’t get what the hell that’s supposed to mean.

  9. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar says:

    @Chris N.: Considering the diminishing album sales nowadays, “please” would be a little more appropriate than “thank you”, don’t you think?

  10. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    I think they truly mean to thank their fans for supporting them enough for a ‘greatest hits’ CD but in reality, it actually services those who aren’t their bigger fans and if they’re gonna buy one complete ‘album’ of theirs, it’s gonna be the hits package.

  11. LanibugNo Gravatar says:

    I have to say that with artists that I listen to consistently, I would not buy a greatest hits package, but as many people have mentioned I have all of the hits. The part that makes me mad is when they package in new songs and you cannot buy the new songs online without buying the whole album…..argh….really gets me going.

    Now there are artists that I have bought greatest hits packages from because while I like them, they do not fall into my favorites categories and I have not bought their other stuff and it has allowed me to get the stuff I like without having to purchase the other stuff.

  12. TrailerNo Gravatar says:

    I was going to defend greatest hits collections, but when I looked at my collection, I realized I haven’t bought any myself in quite awhile (aside from Bob Marley). Those who still buy CD’s will still buy them, but we all know that market shrinks every day. Even a diehard CD buyer like myself has begun supplementing my buys with digital albums and singles.

  13. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    To be honest, I wouldn’t have the hits packages I have of late if not for getting review copies of them. I did buy a “Playlist” set of Lonestars (ducks) but then wisened up and returned it as I had everything on it already and can review such things w/o buying them cause of that.

  14. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    For those who still like their music in archival (permanent)form, “Greatest Hits” packages still serve a purpose, especially for artists of whom you are not a diehard fan.

    I have all three Tim McGraw hits collections, but only one other album, ditto for other artists such as Phil Vassar, Mindy McCready, Michelle Wright and Rascall Flatts. I’ve only picked up hits collections on Reba since about 1992 and only rarely picked up non-hits albums by Martina McBride and Faith Hill

    Since I do not download, I hope that hits collections continue to be available

  15. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    One exception that I thought of is box sets, which I still think are awesome, though a different beast from greatest hits packages. I don’t know whether their time has passed yet or not, but I hope it hasn’t.

  16. JaneNo Gravatar says:

    I think Greatest Hits albums will always be around, hopefully. For me, I became a fan of Martina McBride after buying her GH album, as it introduced me to her music. Same with Lee Ann Womack, so hopefully they’ll always been around for others like me to gain new artists to listen to and for singers to gain new fans.

  17. SheldonNo Gravatar says:

    Why in hell would anyone buy a Rascal Flatts Greatest Hits album? All one has to do is sit in front of your local “TODAY’S COUNTRY!!!” radio and listen for an hour…you will be sure to hear all of their hits – probably twice.

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