It’s tough to be a “good fan” these days.
By “good fan” I mean someone who ignores the pre-release leak blogs, the torrent sites and the file-sharing services and actually pays their hard-earned cash to buy the album legit when it comes out. Someone who coughs up the extra dough for a physical version, not because they think it sounds better, but because they think music still holds some value, not something that’s as disposable as any other downloaded file on a hard drive.
I consider me one of those people. I try so hard to respect and value the bands I love, even when it seems like they are going out of their way to make it as hard as possible for me to do so.
I’ve expressed my disdain before for “exclusive” tracks. Simply put, I think they are bullshit, nothing more than a cheap way for a band to make a quick cash grab when music sales alone aren’t enough. Things have gotten a little better in recent years. It used to be that “exclusive” tracks on iTunes or on like services were only available if you bought the whole album. At least nowadays they’re usually available individually. So if a group wants to stick a B-side up as an “exclusive” track for iTunes or Amazon, I’m willing to live with it.
But sometimes it just goes too far. And if there’s any band who’s “good” at taking the whole “exclusive” thing too far, it’s fucking Depeche Mode.
When they released Sounds Of The Universe in 2008, they put out several versions. One of them was an awesome Deluxe Box Set Edition that cost around $100. That version came with not only the complete album and a ton of nifty booklets, postcards and neat bonus goodies, but two additional CDs of remixes and demos as well. Sure, it was pricey and a bit excessive, but when you got that version you felt like really got your money’s worth.
Well, not really. You see, there was also another deluxe version that was only available through iTunes on their now-defunct iTunes Pass service. This edition of the album included 18 or so additional remixes, most of which were not made available on the Deluxe Box Set Edition. It cost a bit more than the standard version, but it sure as hell cost less than the $100 that the deluxe box did.
Basically, Depeche Mode was saying that if you really wanted all the content associated with Sounds Of The Universe, then spending $100 for the Deluxe Edition wasn’t good enough. You were going to have to buy the album twice.
Now, I’m sorry, but I feel that if I spend $100 on an album, on the physical deluxe edition of the record, the one that I had to pre-order on import to get, then I feel like I should be getting the best version of that album. I should get the most bang for the my buck.
Well, apparently Depeche Mode doesn’t feel the same way, because they’re at it again. Two weeks ago Remixes 2: 81-11, their latest remix compilation, came out. When this was announced, I knew I had to get it on vinyl, if for no other reason than to match my vinyl copy of their first remix collection. So I went ahead and pre-ordered the insanely expensive 6LP edition.
Since I live in US, I had to pay import price for this box set, so it cost me over $100. I finally got it in the mail last Friday. I clawed my way into the packaging, eagerly anticipating to discover what my $100 got me.
Did it get me a download card with access to digital versions of all the tracks? Nope.
Did it get me any exclusive tracks? Nope.
Does nearly every other (far less expensive) version of the album come with exclusive tracks? Yup.
Did I go ahead and find all the exclusive tracks online with plans of hosting them here? You bet your ass.
Master And Servant (RSS Remix)
In Chains (Myer vs Wilder Deconstruction)
Sister Of Night (Ida Engberg’s Giving Voice To The Flame Remix)
Sister Of Night (Ida Engberg’s Walking Through The Light Dub)
Sweetest Perfection (Phil Kieran Vocal Miix)
Sweetest Perfection (Phil Kieran Remix Dub)
Personal Jesus (Alex Metric Dub)
I Want It All (Roland M. Dill Lunar Dub Remix)
The Sinner In Me (SixToes Remix)
The Sun And The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey’s Further Excerpts)
The thing that really irks me about most of these exclusive cuts is that they aren’t really exclusive. For example, as Depeche Mode’s official site (which I am not linking to for obvious reasons) points out, “The Sun And The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey’s Further Excerpts)” is an “exclusive” track for not only HMV in England, but also for Nokia in Finland; Napster in Germany; both FNAC and Virgin Media in France; Net Music in Italy, and for Aspiro in other parts of Europe.
“Regional exclusive” and “exclusive” are not the same thing. Of course, all those stores want you to think that their version is special for some reason, so they won’t mention that.
And in some cases, like with the iTunes or Amazon exclusive tracks, if you don’t live in America or England, you’re just fucked and you cannot buy them. For some reason, if you live in the “wrong” country you aren’t able to buy digital music from other counties. Apparently MP3s can’t be imported and exported. I’m sure there’s a reason for that, and I’m sure it’s for the benefit of billion-dollar record companies and not the consumer.
What’s really fucked is that these aren’t even all the exclusive remixes! The online music store Beatport actually has an exclusive version of the album, but I don’t know if I consider that to be the same thing. Beatport is for DJs primarily, and the versions they have are almost all dub and instrumental cuts for DJs, so I’m not going to share those. But the fact that there’s a whole other version of this album that’s only available digitally and not to people who shelled out $100 for a deluxe vinyl set is kind of fucked up.
And even if you think “exclusive” tracks are just great and not fucking over hardcore fans, the fact that I was still able to find all of these tracks online in just 30 minutes of searching shows that, at the end of the day, they’re a pretty fucking useless way of encouraging MP3 sales.