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Music Sales Slump Could Spell the End of Boxed Sets

July 8, 2008 1:14 PM ET

With music sales in a steady decline, perhaps the biggest victim of the P2P era is the boxed set, with only a limited number of sets planned for the latter part of 2008. Sales of boxed sets have hit record lows, making labels reluctant about releasing them at all. This year, the most notable boxed sets are the Jesus & Mary Chain's The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities, a Jane's Addiction anthology endorsed by drummer Stephen Perkins and retrospectives of Rob Zombie, Roy Orbison and Hall & Oates. Even the most anticipated boxed set of them all, Neil Young's long-awaited Archives Vol. 1, has shifted into a BluRay format in hopes of avoiding the fate of its boxed peers (and for the video and space opportunities offered by the hi-def format). In fact, the boxed set hasn't had a "hit" since Nirvana's With the Lights Out sold 500,000 copies four years ago. Developments like this could spell disaster for niche labels like Rhino and Rykodisc who regularly put out top-shelf collections during the holidays, including last years boxes devoted to Brit pop and heavy metal. While boxed sets slump, deluxe editions are apparently doing better, as Universal is reportedly planning a whole slew of deluxe releases of newer albums from the Killers and Snow Patrol at year's end to cash in on the holidays.

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

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