MELISSA BLOCK, host:
It used to be that you'd have to wait years for your favorite band to remaster an album or release some bonus tracks that didn't make the first cut, but now reissues of popular albums are common. And as NPR's Sam Sanders reports, they often come just months after an album's first release.
SAM SANDERS: In April 2006, R&B singer Beyonce released her second solo album, "B'Day." It was a hit, though not her biggest, and it produced this number one single.
(Soundbite of song, "Irreplaceable")
BEYONCE (Singer): (Singing) Talking about how I'll never ever find a man like you. You got me twisted. You must not know about me. You must not know about me. I could have another you in a minute. Matter fact, he'll be here in a minute, baby.
SANDERS: There used to be a time when a few singles from a release would run their course, and the album would be over, but not this one.
Beyonce and her record label, Columbia, reissued "B'Day" just months after its first release. They threw in a few new songs and a music video for every track on the album. Although it wasn't the first of the current bunch of reissues, it was one of the biggest. The re-release produced a 903-percent jump in sales. The record industry saw dollar signs.
Mr. KEITH CAULFIELD (Senior Chart Manager, Billboard): Basically anything to motivate the consumer to go out and repurchase an album, which is kind of what it comes down to.
SANDERS: That's Keith Caulfield. He's senior chart manager at Billboard magazine. He says record labels are looking for anything to prop up album sales, sales that have already plunged 17 percent this year.
Labels are honing in on audiences who will buy just about anything from their favorite artist.
Mr. CAULFIELD: Some fans and customers really want to pay a lot of money or extra money for extra content. There are some fans that are just -have insatiable appetites for this kind of product.
SANDERS: Of the 10 best-selling albums last year, eight had official re-releases. Taylor Swift, Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, even Hannah Montana, they found fans who will buy the same product, or at least similar products, twice.
But at Melody Records in Northwest Washington, D.C., Anreus Woods(ph) was not one of those fans.
Mr. ANREUS WOODS: What have you really done? You haven't really added any more content. You're showing me DVD of stuff that I've seen on VH1, MTV. It's like, what's the point?
SANDERS: He even offered a sort of challenge to record labels.
Mr. WOODS: If your album's so great, put it out right the first time. Don't wait until the second time. Oh, gee, bonus, reissue, oh - that's a bunch of garbage.
SANDERS: Or is it? Indie band Passion Pit recently re-released its debut album "Manners." Lead singer Michael Angelakos admits the band didn't get it right the first time.
Mr. MICHAEL ANGELAKOS (Lead Singer, Passion Pit): I didn't actually end up submitting the correct lyrics nor did I settle on artwork that I was completely happy with.
SANDERS: It seems Passion Pit was in a rush to meet a record deadline. After the album came out, the musicians went back to the label and asked to reissue it with proper lyrics, new artwork and some new songs like this Cranberries cover.
(Soundbite of song, "Dreams")
PASSION PIT (Music Group): (Singing) I know I felt like this before. But now I'm feeling it even more because it came from you.
SANDERS: The musicians say sales didn't matter. They just wanted to, well, get it right. And they have been pleased with the reception.
Mr. ANGELAKOS: It really hasn't, like, spiked sales. I mean, they've gone up a little bit, but I mean, just - they've basically stayed the same since about the second month of its release. It's been pretty consistent, so it's been great. It's been really wonderful.
SANDERS: Angelakos has no reservations about reissuing the album.
Mr. ANGELAKOS: Why the hell not? Why would you not do that, you know? And the fact that a label was willing to reprint the album and do it, having released the album only a year ago, is just fantastic.
SANDERS: Especially if it sells a few more records. Keith Caulfield of Billboard says we shouldn't expect reissues to die anytime soon, and we probably shouldn't be surprised by such record label tactics.
Mr. CAULFIELD: Now, when someone's album comes out, there may be the iTunes version, the Amazon version, the CD version, the one with the DVD, the one that comes bundled with the T-shirt, the one that's in the special velour box with a piece of someone's hair inside for $150, the one that has Mick Jagger's signature inside. There's something for everyone.
SANDERS: So we'll all have multiple opportunities to buy our favorite music at least twice, if any of us care to buy it at all.
Sam Sanders, NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
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