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22 February, 2005

Deadwing Ltd. Ed. arriving later than expected

The forthcoming album 'Deadwing', from Porcupine Tree, is to be released as a standard CD, as a 5.1 surround sound DVD-A, and as a limited edition combining the CD and DVD-A with 'enhanced' packaging.  That much has been known for several months, but earlier announcements that the limited edition would be available by preorder implied that it would either be out before the retail edition (improbable, but the fans got a little over-excited) or despatched to reach people on the release date of the retail edition.

However, there have been several changes since that announcement.

Firstly, the simultaneous global release was abandoned. After the split release of the previous album, 'In Absentia' (Sept. 2002 in N.America, Jan. 2003 in Europe), it was announced that that wouldn't happen again. Well, it has.
'Deadwing' would still be released in Europe on the date previously mentioned, 21 March, but N.America would have to wait a further 2-3 weeks (a precise revised US release date has yet to be announced at all [Update 02/03/05: 19 April] [Update 30/03/05: 26 April]).
Then last week it was casually mentioned on a record company forum - not the official Porcupine Tree website (which the record company has taken to calling 'the US site') - that the European date has been moved to 28 March. No explanation or apology; in fact the implication was that this had always been the planned date.

The latest non-announcement, this time revealed by a fan with 'insider' contacts, is that the limited edition will be released to coincide with the N.American retail edition, 2-3 weeks after the retail edition has already been on sale in Europe. Note that this has yet to be definitively confirmed. [Update 02/03/05: And is looking unlikely; current best guess is some time in May.] [Update 30/03/05: No, it will coincide with the US CD release, on 28 April.]

Quite apart from the disappointment, fans are annoyed by the apparently exploitative tactic. 'Hard core' fans (including those in N.America) will want a copy of the album at their earliest opportunity, so will probably buy the European retail edition, only to buy the limited edition too, a few weeks later.

This might seem a good idea to the record company accountants, but I wonder whether they've considered the implications for chart position. If US fans buy the European edition, that'll harm US sales and reduce the band's apparent popularity there. Similarly, immediate European sales will be reduced by those, including me, who will be waiting until the release of the limited edition before buying anything.

Yes, I'm moaning, but I just want to make it clear that my criticism is of the record company, not the band, who are totally at the mercy of the distributors and seem to be about as well-informed about release dates as the fans.

I'm very disappointed by the contempt of the band and fans exhibited by the record company, but not exactly surprised. To a multinational corporation, CDs are merely products; silver pills to the masses, and the name on the label isn't particularly relevant. If this one doesn't sell, too bad, but something else by some other band will be out a week later, so P-Tree or the band's fans barely matter.

Oh; to answer the question which probably brought you here: at the time of writing, pre-orders are not yet being taken for the limited edition of 'Deadwing'. That process is expected to begin in early March. Don't worry, I'll mention it here as soon as I hear more, though personally I won't trust any official announcements until the item arrives in my hand.

[Update 30/03/05: The US release date of the CD has finally been confirmed as 26 April. The announcement also says that the hardback book edition (no mention of contents) will be out on the same day. Preorders aren't mentioned.]

Comments

MONEY, not artistry, has always run the music industry and always will. It's not about the talent (in their minds) they could not care less about the artists...it's about how much money "The Industry" can soak the public for. That is very sad...and quite pathetic.

Posted by Ernie Wilson at February 28, 2005 10:06 PM
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