Our last article described the ever-popular concept of limited edition private releases in the world of film soundtracks. Its complement is the older, much more traditional notion of commercial releases.
Commercial CDs are the kind you can find at your local shop. As opposed to private releases, the price of commercial CDs will vary vastly depending on a variety of factors, including special sales, new release prices, and the scruples of the retailer. As opposed to the limited run of private releases, these CDs will stay in print as long as the sales are steady, and thus take much, much longer to become collectibles. When a recording label goes out of business however (such as Big Screen, Angel Records and Bay Cities) this of course immediately increases the value of its titles all at once.
Commercial CDs can have very stylish covers and inserts, but don’t expect a lovingly edited 16-page booklet crammed with information. Instead of an in-depth musical analysis, the only text one can expect to find is a short note from the movie’s director, commenting on the work of his composer. Always positively of course. No one has yet seen liner notes saying something along the lines of: “John Debney really wasn’t my first choice, but he did what he could with the skills he had. I’m sorry.”
Don’t expect a complete release of a movie’s score, either. In order to save money on production costs and musicians’ union fees, unnaturally short commercial releases are frequent, although the situation is thankfully not nearly as bad as it was in the early 90s.
Commercial labels don’t have vastly different personalities and mission statements from one another, as private labels do, but here is nonetheless a list of common names in the industry.