Labels often create series of recordings. Occasionally, these form part of a coherent project that means something to the customer. Most of the time, though, the connection between the recordings is only important to the record label*, and the real reason for having a series is because it saves time when you’re trying to convince retailers to stock them.

How, though, is the customer supposed to make sense of this?

Don’t fret. I’m looking out for you. Here’s a helpful glossary of the most common catalog(ue) marketing terms. It’s all you need to know:

Original = Old

Legend = Old

Classic = Old

Great = Old

Master = Old

Gold = Old

Platinum = Very old

Pleasure = Cheap

Ultimate = Cheap

Best = Cheap

Most = Cheap

Supreme = Very cheap

Masterpieces = Cheapest

Complete = Big

Essential = Too big

Greatest = Old and cheap

Edition = Same record, different cover.

Collection = Too old, too big, and not nearly cheap enough.

Library = Run for the hills. Do it while there’s still time.

* Are these all recordings on which the artists are no longer due royalties? Are they 1960s vinyl releases having a last shot at incremental revenue before they enter the public domain? Have artists active on the label recorded the same repertoire, triggering a price drop on the old records? Are these better than the new recordings but not nearly as easy to market? Who cares. The covers are crap, but they’re cheaper now.



Post a comment
  1. kimchikraut #
    July 24, 2012

    I am a sucker for these ploys. Put classic reissue jubilee edition in the box and I gotta get ’em all.

  2. July 25, 2012

    you forgot “limited edition” usually means :-we will stop pressing them, when you stop buying them! -Ed

    • July 25, 2012

      I think it’s “We’ll be lucky to sell our first pressing”.

  3. July 25, 2012

    So true! The glossary is spot on.

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