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Albums Are Back

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For years now we have heard how the music industry has been slowly dying due to lack of sales, iTunes, and piracy.

As in any business, necessity is the mother of invention, finding new and creative ways to turn around an ailing business is key and the music business is certainly no different.

Right now all of the major labels are brainstorming, the goal being to find a way to turn around the physical product marketplace that seemed dead and buried not too long ago.

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Thanks to some flexible pricing, excellent marketing techniques, and an understanding of the needs of “real” record collectors, the catalog album business is enjoying a surprising resurgence. Here’s a sample of the new box sets available to tempt the avid collector.

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Lets take Elvis Presley for instance. It’s been over 35 years since his death and his label RCA are still finding ways to generate sales from the Presley library.

By re-boxing some of Elvis’ early work, RCA have released “Elvis at Stax,” a three-CD compilation of Presley’s 1973 recordings at Stax Records available in August from RCA/Legacy and will cost around $30.

Rhino Entertainment’s “ZZ Top: The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990” — a box of 10 CDs that sells for $39.98.

Most of these packages are aimed at “the 45- to 65-year-old dude who may have some money in his pocket,” according to Carl Mello, director of purchasing at the 28-store Newbury Comics chain based in Brighton, Mass.

Rhino, who also handled super-group Grateful Dead, released a number of expensive limited-edition releases from the band. A 7,200-copy run of the 60-CD “Europe ’72” and a 9,000-copy edition of the 18-disc “Spring 1990,” priced at $450 and $200 respectively, both sold out.

Concord/Hear Music reissued the 1976 Paul McCartney & Wings live album “Wings Over America” in May and it was made available in two-CD and three-CD renderings, as well as a numbered, limited edition deluxe box (priced at $138.99) containing a DVD of the live performance and four supplementary books.

Pop Market, a membership-based website that offers daily, limited-time discounts on a variety of titles, has promoted such Legacy releases as its “Complete Albums Collections,” multi-disc box sets devoted to Sony acts with voluminous back catalogs, including such high-ticket items as last year’s 63-disc Johnny Cash set retailing at $329.

One thing is for certain, over the next year or so there will be a number of re-releases and re-issues, and with core fans clambering to pick up these limited edition runs, the music business can look forward to some good times ahead.

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