CD Boxed Sets Headed for Extinction?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


mojo-photo-boxedset.jpgWhile current releases by notable artists can still move some units, the CD boxed set may turn out to be a kind of global warming polar bear, feeling the pain of slipping physical music sales before the rest of the world. Reuters reports that fewer and fewer collections are being released, and quotes a music purchaser as saying “boxed-set sales have fallen off the cliff.” While SoundScan doesn’t have data specific to boxed sets, the last collection to be a hit was Nirvana’s With the Lights Out, which sold 504,000 copies. While a record exec quoted in the article downplays the sales slide with a Zen-like “everything is relative,” I can actually see a couple possible reasons for the downturn right there in paragraph two:

Only a handful of enticing boxed sets are due out at year’s end. Among them are Rhino’s long-in-the-works four-disc Jesus and Mary Chain collection, “The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities”; … and anthologies from Rob Zombie, Nina Simone, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton and Hall & Oates.

Ahem! Sure, hooray Jesus and Mary Chain, but I can safely say that’s a niche product: I’m probably in the top 10% in terms of dedicated J&MC fans, and I can’t imagine plunking down $50 for that thing. Otherwise, holy moley, record labels: you’re telling me the Hall & Oates boxed set might be a commercial disappointment? This points out a generally-overlooked factor in the whole argument about the reasons for the decline in music sales: people want to buy good music that they actually like. Has anybody done any studies correlating the sales downturn with the appearance of Ashlee Simpson? Well I’ll get right on that.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest