Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Compilations prove greater than the sum of their parts

Good news for record labels: compilations are still selling. A case in point is the MT-USA CD and DVD jobbie from last year. The Very Best of MT-USA featured tracks from such 1980s fixtures as ZZ Top, Men Without Hats …

Fri, Nov 14, 2008, 09:00

   

Good news for record labels: compilations are still selling.

A case in point is the MT-USA CD and DVD jobbie from last year.

The Very Best of MT-USA featured tracks from such 1980s fixtures as ZZ Top, Men Without Hats and The Bangles as well as a selection of videos from that era.

The compilation has sold a healthy 35,000 copies in Ireland to date, so it’s no surprise that the record label, Sony-BMG, are going back to that particular well this Christmas.

The Very Best of MT-USA, Volume 2 goes on sale today with tracks from Alphaville, A-Ha, Hall & Oates, Thompson Twins, The Jets, Cutting Crew and other giants of the decade that taste overlooked.

For labels with significant back catalogues, such compilations are easy pickings. Whether these are rounding up current hits (the Now That’s What I Call Music! franchise is in rude health at number 71 in the series) or raiding the archives once again (Larry Gogan’s 101 Hits of The 80s and 90s is a recent homegrown release sure to feature under many Christmas trees this year), the compilation continues to exert a commercial appeal.

For certain sectors of the industry, compilations have helped to take up some of the slack caused by falling singles sales.

At the recent NI Music: The Way Forward music conference in Belfast, Andy McKirdy from Skint Records pointed out that many dance labels now rely heavily on the fees obtained from licensing tracks to regular collections such as The Annual or Floorfillers Clubmix. Up to five years ago, such fees were seen as profit; now, they’re vital to pay the bills.

However, chart returns indicate that the vast majority of compilation sales are on CDs, with only a tiny proportion of these albums purchased as digital downloads.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the face of more and more people making the switch to digital and starting to put together bespoke compilations of their own.

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