Greatest Hits or Musical Money Spinner?

A Greatist Hits album. The pinnacle of a band’s musical life, a look back at the material they have produced over the years, highlighting their best material. A fantastic idea no?

It used to be. An artist’s greatest hits used to come at the end of their career, usually after they retired or even once they had died so people could look back at the amazing catalogue of music they had created and enjoy it in one package. However, record companies have seemingly ruined this concept, turning it into a money spinner that has resulted in musicians releasing a greatest hits album before they’ve even established themselves as a credible artist. It echoes the trend of celebrities writing autobiographies when they’re barely out of puberty. Thanks, but I’m no more interested in how you used to play in the street than the kids next door who are still doing it.

The idea that a band’s greatest hits can come out before they’ve released all their regular albums is a little bit silly and ends up in multiple greatest hits albums, meaning they’re not even a greatest hits at all (but all the time racking up the pennies for the bigwigs). It’s happening more and more often now with greatest hits albums being released by the likes of Snow Patrol, Natalie Imbruglia and Foo Fighters when they’re nowhere near the end of their lifespan.

Dave Grohl summed it up this week when he called the release of their greatest hits album ‘an obituary’. He’s not happy about it but it’s something that is written into contracts when bands sign long term deals and illustrates the lack of power that even big bands like Foo Fighters have in the industry. Even Radiohead, potentially the most influential band in the business, had a greatest hits released without their blessing. If they can’t keep the rights to their music then what chance do smaller acts have?

I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting for the release of Jedward: Greatest Hits I. Shouldn’t think I’ll have long to wait…

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