A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... there was a brand of music compilations called "WOW" that served as the ultimate mix of what's hot in the Christian music world. While most samplers showcasing new tunes were a mere two to five dollars a pop to get a taste of what was up and coming, the WOW series were full price, but they would also consist of two full discs, offering 30 tracks of music (Sometimes including more, actually). In addition to the hottest songs at radio, a few future hits would often appear on the WOW compilations - songs that were on new releases from some of the hottest CCM bands before that album was even out yet. These were the kinds of compilations that did a pretty good job of representing the best of the industry... At least, that's how they started out.
Now, over fifteen years after the first WOW release, the annual installments of WOW are going Gold (WOW 2010) and Platinum (WOW 2009), a truly impressive feat in this economic climate.
But over the past couple years, the WOW brand has tried a bit too ambitiously to cash in on its success, (not to mention that with the ailing economy and music business, the structure of the industry has also greatly changed). In 2008, the WOW brand announced that they would cut the WOW releases from 2 discs to one disc (which was 16 songs plus 3 "bonus" tracks from newcomers) and release them three times a year, starting with the title "WOW Hits 1." To make matters worse, they were going to charge full price for the now one-disc release. It was such a bad idea that "WOW Hits 2" never even saw the light of day and the WOW brand returned to the annual release idea. (And besides... when would you know which ones were released what year?)
We get the idea of WOW Worship, WOW Christmas (which is actually a really fun idea), and WOW Gospel -- even the marketing aim of doing the whole "WOW New & Next" sampler of up-and-coming fresh talent (and at $2.99 by itself or FREE with another WOW purchase is actually a great idea). But what we don't get here, is this "Best Of" annual re-release thing (that was announced earlier this week). Doing a "WOW Best of 2004" in 2010 truly makes little to no sense. Not only are a majority of music buyers [sadly] not interested in the music any older than two or three years, but you'd be hard-pressed to find many music buyers interested in a collection of what was popular six years ago. On top of that, who would want to pay $9.99 for a one-disc release of old music when they can, say, hop on Amazon.com and buy the 2-disc version brand new from a market seller for $9.80 or used for as low as 84 cents? To make matters worse, these one-disc releases are a trim 12 songs, as opposed to the 32, 33, or 34 tracks that the original release offered (depending on the year). It just doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Also, the 2-disc versions are $12.99 digitally... why would you pay 3.00 less for 20 less songs? Sure the WOW folks are proud about the reissues... but why, really?
The "Best Of" marketing strategy just seems nearly as insulting to the intelligence of the consumer as the "WOW Hits 1" did two years ago. Here's to hoping someone re-thinks this and begins to give music buyers just a smidgen of more credit than this.