The Beastie Boys announced plans yesterday for a super-fancy deluxe reissue of their 1994 album, Ill Communication. Just like the treatments of Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head, It will be released in a million different formats and contain a bunch of rarities and alternate versions and remixes and all that stuff no one will ever listen to. Presumably just like you, I don’t find this news particularly interesting.
I do find Trent Reznor’s Twitter-based reaction to it somewhat interesting, though.
Beastie Boys / TopSpin get it right once again. This is how you sell music today.
This is sad, obviously, for a number of reasons. First of all, I still like to believe that you sell music—or at least experience some modicum of success as an artist—by making music that people like rather than preying on their nostalgia by repackaging music they used to like before they learned to like better stuff and selling it to them at inflated prices. And then there’s the obvious problem that in order to be in a position to do what the Beasties are doing, an artist must have had a period where they sold a shit-ton of albums, which, by his own logic, can’t happen anymore.
He’s probably not wrong, of course. But there’s just something about his tone, about his own willingness to employ exactly the same kind of business model, that makes you think if he’s concerned at all about falling record sales, it’s because of how its affecting his own enormous bank account—not because it signals a seismic shift where people don’t value records anymore, or because it might keep generations of young artists from achieving the same success he’s enjoyed.