Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders

If you have any vinyl records from the early 1970s, or at least any issued by Warner/Reprise anyway, you've probably seen ads for these compilation albums.

They were sold at a loss, as advertisements to boost sales for the more "underground" artists on the Warners labels. Particularly, it would seem, Frank Zappa and associates.

This is new stuff, NOT old tracks dredged out of our Dead Dogs files. If our Accounting Department were running the company, they'd charge you $9.96 for each double album. But they're not. Yet.

We are not 100 per cent benevolent. It's our fervent hope that you, Dear Consumer, will be encouraged to pick up more of what you hear on these special albums at regular retail prices.

The mix of artists even on a single one of these records crazy diverse, and nothing is segregated by genre. On the early albums, you will quite literally find Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Randy Newman, James Taylor, and Gordon Lightfoot sharing the same record. This defies all notions of market segmentation.

Either they were really ahead of their time, reflecting how people would eventually put all those together on their mixtapes and iPods, or they just didn't care.

Did I forget to mention that the later albums in the series was compiled by Dr. Demento?

Note: this is the kind of thing that really needs to be featured on Boing Boing.


Of course, now the Accounting Department is running the company.