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David Bowie team ‘sorry’ as Brilliant Live Adventures campaign falls short

“Worst release in history”

Frustrated David Bowie fans, who feel let down by the rather shambolic Brilliant Live Adventures campaign, were sent an apology today by the Bowie web team, acknowledging that many had suffered what they called a “poor shopping experience”.

Fans have been damning on social media about the way the sales of the six live albums, and the associated (empty) box sets, have been handled and many people have been left with half-collections due to later volumes (five and six, specifically) selling out in less than half an hour!

The campaign was announced in October last year. Brilliant Live Adventures was the banner for a series of David Bowie live albums, with material recorded between 1995 and 1999.

Universal Music’s direct to consumer site is uDiscoverMusic.com

All well and good, but in an attempt to keep all the spoils for themselves, Parlophone chose to do this entirely in-house, side-stepping traditional retail channels entirely (independent record shops and large unit-shifters such as Amazon and HMV). These releases would only be available from three places online: Dig!, the recently rebranded UK Rhino ‘D2C’ (direct-to-consumer) website; the official David Bowie shop; and the US Rhino webstore. The label would take the sales, manage fulfilment and customer service.

The dark clouds of discontent gathered overhead almost immediately, when the first release, Ouvrez Le Chien, was announced and the promised empty box sets to house all six volumes disappeared from sale in the blink of an eye! A flustered Parlophone promised there would be more, but that fans would have to wait until the very end of the campaign. Uncertainty hung in the air like a bad smell.

In truth, the first few releases came and went without too much fuss, but it was when number five, Something In The Air, sold out so quickly (half an hour) that the fury and frustration started to build. The general feeling was that limited editions are one thing, but this was turning the process of buying physical music into the same kind of lottery as acquiring tickets to concerts. And as with gig tickets, there was a suspicion that these weren’t all ending up in the hands of the fans but rather going straight up on eBay!

David Bowie aficionados were left to contemplate half a collection of Brilliant Live Adventures releases, or resort to paying over the odds to resellers.


The Dig! shopping experience on 19 March 2021, as the site crashed.

Number six – At The Kit Kat Klub (Live New York 99) – was the last in the series and this is where things really fell apart. Now alerted to the fact that these were going to sell out quickly, fans descending en masse to the Dig! store on 19 March and the site promptly crashed just as customers had items in their baskets. Some made it through the checked process but were left in limbo, without the expected confirmation emails, while other stressed fans abandoned Dig! and headed elsewhere, only to find the required items unavailable.

Five months on from the original promise, some box sets became available again, but not consistently across all three sites. Such was the uncertainty, some ended up hedging their bets and placing duplicate orders on different sites in order to make sure they got the product they needed. This of course accentuated stock availability issues.

But such fears turned out to be well founded. Rhino US took and confirmed orders for empty CD and vinyl boxes two weeks ago, only to inform some people yesterday that “due to a technical error” the boxes had been oversold and they wouldn’t be getting them after all! All these disappointments caused one fan to conclude that Brilliant Live Adventures was the “worst release in history”.

It seems like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Back in October 2020, Parlophone didn’t produce enough of those empty boxes to satisfy demand. So they produced some more, but that still wasn’t enough to satisfy demand!

Something In The Air (#5) became available at 9am GMT in both Britain and America when it went on sale. So when UK fans couldn’t buy it due to the lack of stock, guess what? They headed to the Rhino US store and ordered from there! American fans were in bed asleep, totally unaware that their counterparts across the Atlantic were pinching from ‘their’ allocation! Probably as a result of this, the final offering, At The Kit Kat Klub, went on sale at 4pm. But that wasn’t communicated in advance by the Bowie team, leaving fans to spend the day stressing, on high alert constantly refreshing the online stores waiting for stock to become available.

Add to all this, the slightly dubious concept of asking fans to buy the empty box in which to store their Brilliant Live Adventures Collection and it becomes easy to understand the lack of goodwill from consumers. The cost of UK shipping for the six vinyl releases, added to the price of the empty box gets you to a figure north of £50. That’s before you spend £150 on the actual records (if they’ll ‘let’ you buy them…).

Why didn’t they have an option to purchase all six albums together in a box, in advance, at the very beginning – which could be delivered together when the sixth album became available? That would cost no more than £10 to ship via courier (in the UK), saving the consumer around £30. And remembering that by selling direct-to-consumer, the label are keeping the cut normally earned by a traditional distributors and retail, surely there’s enough profit from £150 worth of records to ‘give’ fans a cardboard box to keep them in? Did the label and estate really need to squeeze Bowie fans until the pips squeak?

Today’s statement from the official David Bowie store is as follows:

Dear David Bowie Fan, 

We are aware that a number of fans have had a poor shopping experience during the ‘Brilliant Live Adventures’ campaign, and for that we are very sorry. 

We also recognize that, unfortunately due to the unexpected demand, many people have been unable to purchase certain titles and subsequently missed out on the opportunity to complete their collection.

In the coming weeks we will provide you with further details on how and when we will be making these titles available to you again.

Once again we apologize and thank you for your patience and continued support.

David Bowie web team

So it certainly looks as if they intend to make more copies of the individual Brilliant Live Adventures releases available (and perhaps some more boxes too). This is good news for those that missed out, but serious questions remain about how the record label allowed the borderline farcical situation to occur in the first place.

What do you think of the Bowie Brilliant Live Adventures campaign? Tell us of your experiences by leaving a comment.

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martin farnworth

The supposed “unexpected demand” is highly spurious. Anyone with a bit of an idea of limited releases/highly collectible artists would question this from the outset. I feel it’s only a step or two from Parlophone suggesting they are “victims of our success” but perhaps they are. A significant issue though is that does such an awful campaign have a lasting impact on future releases. I suggest not if there’s enough die hard fans out there.

As something a little less than a diehard fan I was interested in only picking up one or two of these as collecting every live albums by any artist is not what i’m into so personally the frustration is minimal.

Andrea

Collectible items have to be expensive by nature and if – like in this case – the items are designed to collectible due to the limited quantity, it should not be a surprise if their price escalate significantly shortly after release. The real mistake here was to underestimate the appeal of such a release and limit the amount of physical copies, Bowie is a mainstream artist, with a devoted fan base, this release should have been more widely available and maybe it will eventually be at a later stage (which will piss off who paid a lot on eBay). Then the disappearance of the traditional physical buying places makes the rest, purchasing on internet does not work for limited availability items (see concert tickets) it’s all in favour of secondary market. I remember similar marketing approach for Andy Partridge demos or Adam Ant reissues, but that was for artists with much less appeal and fan base compared to Bowie. Luckily I’m not interested in this case but I’d be extremely annoyed if a similar mess would happen for one of my favourite artists….

Paul Kent

To be fair, the Andy / Adam boxes didn’t follow this Bowie model at all. Partridge’s Fuzzy Warbles campaign had already wrapped when he announced the Official Collectors Edition. You had the option to buy the complete box or, if you had already purchased all 8 volumes, you could just buy the empty box along with the Hinges EP and booklet. As I recall, the empty box was reasonably priced, too. The Adam Ant Remasters box was preceded by the 3 Ants albums and the box, in effect, came free with the 3 Columbia-era solo albums and the Redux demos collection. There was no cloak and dagger, no misdirection and no false jeopardy involved as has been the case with BLA. Plus – and this is the clincher – they were all available to buy from your local bricks ‘n’ mortar, friendly neighbourhood disc emporium without all the fannying about with online store exclusivity. Having purchased both, I can attest that, compared to BLA, neither was what you could call a frustrating customer journey.

B.Ware

As a Bowie fan who saw many of these shows in the ’90’s, I’m happy these recordings are now released.
I find this post buy Paul to be a bit of sandbagging as it was published after the fact. I was made aware of all these releases before they came out (including the boxes) from a reissue blog in the USA.
Make no mistake I enjoy the SDE blog and have purchased many items from Paul’s online store (in the USA) and I mean no disrespect, but the SDE blog provided little or no info on these Bowie reissues before the release dates.
I got everything I ordered from the Bowie site or the Rhino site (never used Dig)
and I’m very happy as a result.
Paul, it’s your blog
ignore, delete or comment but I think you were late to the party on this reissue series.
Again all respect.

Hugh Hall

Let’s look at the evidence:

* Only 6,000 copies of each release in a DB Limited Edition collectible series available.
* Up to 7 lots of P&P if you’re lucky enough to want/get the entire set.
* Crashing websites.
* Boxes sold separately.
* Some Boxes released initially and then run over to the end of the campaign.
* Product oversold.
* Orders not fulfilled. Or are they?
* Boxes shipped in Padded Envelopes.
* An apology from the Record Label over how badly they have handled the entire process.

So basically the worst delivered release in years and you think Paul is “sandbagging”? I would say all he’s done is “spotlighting” widespread dismay at this abysmal campaign.

Paul-Denis Clermont

Anger & frustration.

Rich G

I just went for each one on CD and a single copy for myself. Numbers 1 to 4 were pretty easy to get on DIG UK, just a bit annoying having to pay separate postage. I wasn’t bothered about a box for £12. I kept refreshing the site on day 5’s release, but missed it, probably by minutes. Despite having signed up for the email reminders I never got a single one. I was gutted missing 5. After seeing the price at about £25 plus postage on ebay, I thought it wasn’t worth it, plus someone pointed out the Paris 1999 gig had been filmed, so I figured it may get a BluRay or DVD release at some point. I spotted number 6 after someone posted about it and bought it from the UK store without much problem. The CD seemed to be available for a few days. So I’ve got everything but 5. I would be pleased if they reissued them for fans. I don’t care about making a limited release less limited. They weren’t numbered. I can’t stand the scalpers though, buying all the copies and selling at more than double the price. I wish they’d found a way to avoid that. A pre-order then manufacture to order or a series subscription might have worked. Proof of having bought just one copy of some previous releases of BLA would obviously be a way of identifying true fans. TO PUT THIS RIGHT the best thing they could do now is give definite details about how and when they will be re-issued. This may save fans feeling they have to buy from scalpers and have the added bonus of the scalpers getting stuck with stock that they can only sell at face value and therefore make a loss. Bonus!

stupidactingsmart

Speaking as a neutral – not being a particular Bowie fan – selling an empty box to be fulfilled later could be seen as somewhat on brand… for anyone who remembers Bowie Bonds.

Ernie

I wanted one from every “era” & missed out on the “Something in the air” one so I really wanted the final one. I knew the day of release, got up at stupid o’clock to check for it, nothing, on & off all day until 5pm & then that took an hour & a half on Dig as it kept crashing & the Bowie site sold out in no time. Eventually got one but it took me 2 & a half hours of time I’ll never get back to secure it!!

Fair play to them for issuing an apology, they’ve really cocked up so hopefully they’ve learnt a few lessons.

The one I play the most is “No Trendy Rechauffe”.

Looking forward, I’d love the Meltdown show he did in 2002 when he was touring the excellent “Heathen” album.

J

The CD Box is back in stock (Thurs 4/1/2021)

https://store.davidbowie.com/product/X3AMDB337/brilliant-live-adventures-cd-slip-case-box?cp=null

NOT AN APRIL FOOL’S JOKE

Don’t know how long the Bowie site will have it, but get one if you need it

JCC

Yeah, I got suckered into this campaign too. I picked up the first 4 discs pretty easily, making sure to preorder as soon as I got the announcement email. Before the debacle with the Depeche Mode “MODE” box, I would never have preordered anything, let alone music. But, since we now live in a world where you can’t really go down to the local record shop on a Friday night and buy a new release anymore, I figured this was the only way to get the CDs. And then came the 5th release, which was sold out almost as soon as the email came out, though I admit I waited until later in the day (or the following day) to try and buy it. Because the previous 4 had not been difficult to buy, I totally underestimated the demand for these things.

So the 5th disc I bought on Ebay for a premium price from a seller in the UK. I was lucky to check my email (and it came into the spam folder, no less) right around the time that the announcement for the 6th disc and the box arrived. Rhino was completely sold out, but I managed to find the 6th disc and the box from Bowie’s website. I got a shipping notice yesterday, so hopefully it will actually show up and be undamaged.

Overall, I agree with everyone that this was pretty poor. I don’t understand why this couldn’t simply be bought in one set. Anytime a company opens the door to resellers and scalpers via some ill-conceived distribution scheme, they’re asking for bad feelings and lost profits in the future. And I don’t get where there’s any profit incentive for them.

For example, if Rhino sells someone 5 copies of a CD at $20 apiece, and that person sells all 5 for $100 apiece, Rhino doesn’t see any of that money. What it indicates is that Rhino’s missing out on selling thousands of copies at $20 apiece, because there’s obvious demand, enough to cause customers to pay 5 times the retail price. Are their accountants that ignorant and stupid that they would be unaware of this?

Paul Taylor

I think the labels cottoned on to that for RSD 2019.
A lot of the items were much more expensive than equivalent products from the year before & had decided to charge ‘straight to eBay’ prices. They probably reckoned if someone was happy to pay £60 to an eBay seller for a £30 album they’d be happy to pay £40 on the day. I didn’t blame them to be honest.
In 2018 there seemed to be more items in the 5000-10,000 area for production numbers which cooled the prices in the resale market with some items still available months later. I know what policy I think makes more sense.
(RSD 2020 seemed to see more ‘normal’ pricing but having three/four/five of them (including Love Record Stores) in a pandemic probably accounted for that.

AndyB

I didn’t know how quickly #5 sold out and was fortunate enough to order a copy through Rhino. Must’ve been in the right place at the right time. For #6, however, I never even received an email stating that is was being released like I did for #1 through #5. Never cared about the empty box, but I do feel badly for those who purchased one and have an incomplete set. What a weird way to release this stuff. Perhaps next they will just release the physical disc and then sell the booklet and the cardboard sleeve seperately!

Rashers

I don’t understand why the record company couldn’t do this on a subscription basis: they pre-announce the collection, you are given the option to buy all of just select titles and empty boxes. They then know about half of their market. A few months later your records arrive and nobody gets upset. Late arrivals have the option of taking on the Ticketmaster type lottery on day of release.

Paul Kent

I was lucky enough to have bagged all 6 CDs and the box without any problems at all. However, to paraphrase the Dame himself, a glass eye in a dog’s ass can clearly see that this whole exercise was massively flawed. I know there are a lot of people that will be disappointed to see the collectivity of these releases diminish as more are pressed. Personally, as one of the lucky few, I say balls to collectivity – Parlophone should flood the place with all 6 albums and the boxes, thus rendering the “services” of all the scalping bastards redundant. Not so smug when they’re saddled with 50 empty boxes that can’t be shifted, plus out of pocket to boot!

christophe

Interesting comments and we have all lived for the 5 and 6 cds the same bad expérience .
The matérial announced in October was exciting 6 cds of one of the most artistic périod of Mr Bowie ! Good
The first four cds were ordered through Bowie Store without any hurry some of them being avalaible for a long time. Sent by Bowie Store from the USA through APC Carier THEY ARRIVED IN FOUR WEEKS TO ME (NEW JERSEY WAREHOUSE KENNEDY AIRPORT PARIS ORLY NICE FRANCE ) ; it was good to have new music every four weeks.
I couldn’t get the 5 th cd (Paris 99) from the site so i got it from Ebay for 20 euros plus the price and IT ARRIVED IN ONE WEEK TO ME !!!!!!!
For the sixth cd i got adverts and i ordered it and the cd slip case in 5 minutes at 4 pm the friday afternoon 19/03. Résults a 6 cds box set without book or memorabilia for 195 euros ….Arghhhh

Drbryant

This is a terribly executed campaign, certainly. However it would have gone al all right if the market for vinyl records had not completely exploded in the last couple of months. We are all familiar with the Craft recordings debacle. And recent releases from MOFI, have disappeared quickly as well. The Bowie people were probably taken by surprise just as the rest of the vinyl community was. It’s nice of them to try to rectify matters. The CD’s and boxes can get done but vinyl pressing plants are running at full capacity and my best guess is that any new orders won’t be filled until 2022. And unless they take preorders and then place the order, they run the risk of scalpers hitting any new offering as well. I wish them luck.

CSIII

You can’t say it hasn’t been interesting. Happy to have received my complete box set. Hope everyone gets theirs.

Great write-up of the situation.

thewildeyedboyfromfreecloud

I think I was one of the few who actually enjoyed this adventure. I managed to buy just one each of all six records and the box from the official UK stores the moment they went on sale. I also enjoyed getting one record each month and having the time to absorb each release.
Parlophone based the limited numbers on previous sales figures and the first release confirmed that by being available for at least a few weeks after it first went on sale – as was “Is It Any Wonder” which some people seem to think sold out immediately – it didn’t! Then as the prices for BLA began jumping on Ebay etc. it sees almost everybody started buying too many copies just to cash in, or to trade, or to keep sealed. Every message board I look at people claim to have multiple vinyl and cds – the folk who bought more than one copy each messed this whole campaign up big time not Parlophone. There would have been enough copies for all of us interested if everyone had just bought one copy for their collection.

Martin

The career box sets are the only success that the record company have done

The coloured releases are supposed to be bricks and mortar releases but are available everywhere – my local record store has given up on them

Steve Thorpe

Loved the ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ CD EP that was released, and count myself lucky to have got one of these. Also the ‘Loving The Alien’ box set was even better than I hoped it would be, following on from the other career box sets. This new campaign is just an absolute farce, start to finish.

ioannis

Rule #1 : there is no bad publicity
Rule #2 : there is NO bad publicity
I m bowie junkie and i can only laugh with the whole story. Soon all 6 lives will be availiable to streaming services and probably the cds and vinyl with pre orders. If you ask me i would like cds of all the conserts availiable with pre order gradually.

Timm Davison

Here’s a thought: these are 6 live Bowie albums that appeal, really, only to Bowie diehards. The average person who is aware of Bowie probably knows none of these songs – or at least not very well. Now, what Parlophone offered us here were 6 ‘limited edition’ live shows, from 3 albums of new material. So, there was going to be a lot of overlap. You’re looking at 2 live albums from each studio album. That’s already kind of overkill, unless you’re a live-show completeist. Others have said the shows offered were truncated, and weren’t of the best sonic quality. Throw in the sale of the slipcase box before and/or after the albums were released, and watching scalper prices increase on ebay and discogs.
Let’s be honest, had Parlophone flooded the market with 6 different 90’s-era Bowie live albums, how many of us would have gone out of our way to buy them all? Would we have rushed out to secure copies of all 6? Or none of them? Or only the ones we really wanted? And how many of us would be saying to ourselves ‘hey they announced Bowie era Box 5 coming soon, and those boxes always have at least 2 non-truncated live albums in the box’. And there it is. Do we not expect at least 2 ‘full-show’ 90’s-era Bowie live albums coming soon in Box 5? Isn’t it possible, likely even, that one or more of these ‘truncated’ BLA releases will be released – in full – on Box 5?
I may not even look to purchase any of the reissues, thinking upon this more. Why is Parlophone rushing to sell us 6 of these live albums now (other than greed)? What are they afraid is going to happen if a few thousand people don’t rush to buy these?

David p

Has anybody received their slip case from Music Glue recently? Mine was despatched on 26th March but hasn’t turned up yet. Are Royal Mail delivering these in the UK?

Fredpostman

Mine arrived yesterday delivered by Royal Mail.
Was in a jiffy bag with no fragile comment on the front,or extra protection,sums up everything really doesn’t it?

Professor GLOVE

This has been a dog’s dinner of a release for sure. I gave up after the quality of the second one proved disappointing. Whilst the mess-up is clearly owned by Parlophone (and your suggestion of purchasing all 6 in a box at the start should have been an option to save them and us hassle and disappointment), a share of blame must fall on Bowie’s Estate too. Who is overseeing the release schedule and its diminishing quality? Managing a major artist’s reputation after their death is a vital role in adding value. The abrupt ending of the 40th anniversary picture disc series for example and recent dependency on not-great live recordings and random colour vinyl editions, suggests Bowie is being badly let down by his representatives. Collectors don’t just want limited editions of any old crap, they want items of quality that are in keeping with their artists’ ethos and imaginative trajectory. No one more so than David Bowie.

Mixter

CLUSTERF#CK‼️ The Bowie Estate has done a pretty shameful job with his reissues. STOP releasing stuff in such limited runs. The “Mother” single from February is another example. I had 3 orders canceled. Not going to pay $100 on ebay for that single nor anything else in his catalog. I’m curious if he stipulated in his trust to make sure his fans get SOAKED on all future releases?

Kauwgompie

Let’s look at what went good and bad.

Good:
-The individual albums and empty box actually WERE limited (for now)
-Fans get newly released live music from one of the world’s biggest pop stars

Bad:
-Empty boxes had to be paid for (should have been sent out for free with first cd)
-CD 5 and 6 were impossible to buy
-What seemed to be limited may now not be limited anymore?
-Fans who were lucky to get all discs or who paid lots of $$ on Ebay to get the empty box and CD 5 and 6 get a kick in the teeth when all that becomes readily available again

Conclusion: the Bowie estate has to walk a fine line between making money, engaging fans and not screwing them. The recent Tom Petty “Wildflowers” Super Deluxe box debacle reminds us how a greedy estate can miss the mark and leave fans furious and frustrated. In this case, greed was the first mistake. Paying for an empty cardboard box is an underhand practice when fans will pay full price for the next 6 live vinyl and CD discs.
Potentially this was a good idea to engage fans but certain safety measures should have been in place to ensure not all stock ends up with scalpers. It seems scalpers with bots got the entire CD 5 and 6 stock. The bot practice could have been avoided by making these purchases bot-proof.

My final and sad conclusion is that the people who run the Bowie Estate are amateurs. They should not have sent out a half-ass note hinting at what may be coming because you cannot remedy this without doing more damage. If you sent out an apology note, you either apologize and move on promising to avoid these mistakes in the future or you offer a remedy. A remedy is simply not possible here without pissing off even more people. What about the fans who did everything right, got all albums and paid perhaps a little extra (or a small fortune) for CD 5 and 6 on Ebay? They will be upset if this set, or pieces of it, are readily available again after the promise of a limited run. The only right thing to do here is to apologize and promise lessons were learnt and they will not be made again in the future. Don’t make this even worse Bowie folks.

Andy Grey

I know I’m only echoing what others have already said but anyway …..

I bought 1 to 5 from Rhino US as I didn’t realise there was a UK store. However, although they notified me via email of the others in time to pre-order I got no notoification of The Kit Kat Club at all and so appear to have missed the chance. Ebay sellers are already selling pre-order copies and I hope they choke on ’em! A box would have been nice but isn’t essential for me, but people who bought all six titles should get on for free as a matter of course.

I agree that a complete box set should have been offered as an option. Alternatively, Rhino have details of those people who’ve bought them all and should have made sure those people got first refusal. It amazes me that a simple spreadsheet seems to be beyond Rhino or any of the others involved!

So much for sticking with one outlet throughout the campaign – my thought that maybe they’d know what was going on and be keeping records was misplaced. Loyalty to customers is obviously a long way down their list of concerns.

As a response to people who wonder how many of these shows will be played again by people who bought them I can say from my perspective that they’re all fine shows and will stand up to repeated listening. There’s so much live stuff available from the 70s as well two live sets from the 80s (in the LTA box) but the 90s has been a bit sparce so it’s a hole that needed filling, especially around the 1:Outside era which, up to now, has been filled with semi-legal radio broadcasts. As a person who likes to collect CDs and vinyl rather than downloads, I welcomed these released but, as ever, the ‘limited edition’ tag worried me. Just press as many as people want and stop sodding around! After all, it’s not a very goood business model to deliberately sell less than people want, is it!

Andy x

Col.

Practically every release from the Bowie estate (or whoever owns it) since his death has been pointless (ie nothing new) and just a way to fleece fans out of their hard earned cash. Great marketing to make fans ‘need’ to buy later releases as they form part of a set. Instead of telling fans they over ordered, why not just make more of them to fit the orders. I think that is what has happened with the Ringo Zoom In Red vinyl, they put it down to production line delays but really they didn’t press enough. I’m so glad I am not more than just a casual Bowie fan purchaser and I don’t have to put up with this kind of shit form record companies / deceased artists estates that don’t give a crap about the fans or disappointing them. if they have say 5,000 to sell surely when 5,000 are sold it should go out of stock and unable to purchase, right? They have cocked up big time and it’s the fans as usual who are let down. I hope for your sakes they do the decent thing and repress them and you all get your orders. But as outstanding orders have been cancelled and refunded it’s not likely to happen. The only reason these pointless Bowie releases are issued is to make money. The only winner here is the scalpers – AGAIN!

Sascha H.

I did get a mail yesterday that the empty box is on it´s way to me. So I am lucky to get the box AND the 6 cds. I hope for all who didn´t get the chance to get the items that they release them in a normal way and not in this super duper limited edition. Come on, Bowie camp, you can do better !!! For David.

-SG-

I bought 4&5 on CD. I was put off by the empty box initially. The first 3 titles had been available earlier in different formats, 1&2&5 via streaming and 3 via bowienet. All of the concerts weere edited. This could gave been much better…a lot better. They also could have made more money if they had just sold the complete set. They basically did not have confidence in the product, and sold it like leftover scrap, resorting to gimmicks. I get the sense that these shows were just intended for streaming and that they had not planned on ever releasing this stuff physically. Kit Kat was just a rehash of a promo CD. There seemed to be little effort to present anything complete, leaving the crass option to resell all of this again in unedited form at a later date. So yeah, this whole cycle felt like a bit of a scam.

Allan

Bowie was very careful about what was released during his lifetime – very limited outtakes and live materials. Now anything goes – I’m just holding out for the 7″ of Bowie in 1992 scratching his arse with Morrissey talking in the background (but only if it’s on blue splatter vinyl). I bought the Bowie RSD 70s live albums as it was interesting in hearing ‘polished’ bootlegs of famous concerts but I don’t play them very often. Can I ask the people buying these “Brilliant” albums, how often do you play them? How many times do you want to hear the same song played live? When you consider how many of Bowie’s live concerts have been recorded, when do you stop buying?
This might actually be viewed as a success by the record co given the most recent Bowie RSD records were among the last to sell out – would these have even sold to the same numbers if they hadn’t made them a limited edition?

Seikotsi

I would definitely not have bought all 6 of them if they weren’t limited maybe one, maximum 2, probably 0. That said, I play them a lot, especially 1, 2 and 5. And 3 actually has some of the best versions ever heard in the studio or live. Eg ‘I am deranged’ on liveandwell.com is for me the best think Bowie ever recorded. But maybe I am deranged ;)

Martin

Totally agree with you on this one – It certainly feels weird given Bowie’s reticence with releases and curation etc that it suddenly seems such a free for all. Most Bowie RSD releases are freely available and at no increase in costs.

It looks and feels like a shambles – I held off on this one and hindsight being 20/20 am glad. I picked up a couple of the live picture disc’s from Townsend Music as they were cheap at £20 and would hardly play them anyway.

Once I heard about the charging for the box it just felt like a cash in and so it has become the record co won’t care – they know in a similar situation it will be the same again with willing buyers

Ed Jones

I echo the sentiment of the article and many of the experiences listed here. For some reason, in spite of signing up for the email alerts from both Dig! and the official Bowie store, I was not notified of anything going on sale, so had to play catch up. As such I had to order two of the albums from the US bowie store, two from Dig and then one from someone on eBay.

I did not succeed in getting a copy of the KitKatClub release as the Dig website crashed repeatedly even though I had the blinking thing in my shopping cart and in the end sold out once I could complete payment. A disaster.

Parlophone should make good on this, but I don’t see why they would feel obligated to. Bowie fans are as blindly loyal as those of many other artists and as such ripe for exploitation, and indeed lay ourselves willingly open to it. That’s sadly the way of commerce and fandom. It’s a never ending story!

That doesn’t make it ethical or right though.

And as for the Box – do the right thing and ignore it. It’s entirely unnecessary and complete landfill – why on earth do we need it?

Wavey Davey

To add Insult to Injury and P*** all over it at the same time the box has just arrived in a Jiffy bag with no markings as to whether it is fragile or to be handled with care so /Mr Postie has just shoe-horned it through the letter box!

daniel

Spending $40au on a cardboard box is absurd. The stores should’ve kept track of who had ordered full sets, and offered the boxes free of charge at the end of the campaign. Or, had people send proof they’ve got all 6 and send them the empty box. Either way the box should have been free. That’s the worst part of this whole ordeal.

Michael

I didn’t have any issues until the 6th one. As I’m in Australia I had to wait till 3am the following morning for the last album to become available. If I had known it was going to be that time, I wouldn’t have spent the previous 18 hours refreshing the page every fifteen minutes.

Gert

I had no problems with this campaign as such. All limited editions tend to create a submarket for resellers. I am grateful as a fan to obtain so many official Bowie items.

Pat

Has anyone here purchased every single official Bowie reissue released since 2010?
If so, have you any change from, say, £ 5,000??

Yann

Hello, I’m French and a Bowie fan.

I was able to quietly order the first 4 volumes of the campaign, but the 5th volume ‘Something In the Air’ (end of February) when I logged in was already sold out. That surprised me. And I bought it from a record store site on March 12.

As for the last volume ‘Bowie Live At The Kit Kat’, I don’t know if I will have it, because when I order on Dig! , payment has been made, but I have not received any confirmation, I have an order number that I sent to the Dig! but still no response from their management center.
And I wouldn’t pay on Ebay, 80 or 150 Euro for a cardboard box.

They could have put the fans who bought the first albums, priority for the last ones as well as for the boxes.

Jamil Ahmad

It would have been better, if the Brilliant Adventures series of CDs, etc, etc had been organised in the following way … allow 5 days or 1 week for people to pre-order the item or items. Then close the window. Hence the manufacturer would know how many copies to produce …and if there has to be a rounded number manufactured, they could be sold as an exclusive at a later date. This, I strongly feel would allow sincere fans to purchase what they deserve not fake fans who are only interested in exploiting the unlucky ones …who like all of us, acted like hungry animals in order to secure a copy! It was pathetic and quite sad …and certainly so far away from the David Bowie Musical Environment!

RJS

It would have been better if they’d just released it the traditional way – everything already boxed up and ready to go. Buying, collecting and listening to music is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Expecting people to jump through hoops and releasing limited quantities (an ever increasing practice) removes much of that enjoyment.

Keith

I have to say the who Brilliant Live Adventures has been a masterclass in mismanagement and underestimates.
First up who came up with 6000 as a number to manufacture? The benchmark in this area is the Grateful Dead which Daves picks and they are limited editions of 25000. I would argue David Bowie has a bigger worldwide appeal than the Grateful Dead.

Second is the box which you rightly point out has been a shambles.

If it were me I would be offering some form of pre sale for each to judge actual required quantity, and incentives ingredients the purchase of the whole set in advance with the box.

The inxentivised buyers get the full set still over the 6 month period with a box. While the casual buyers still have the opportunity to buy in advance the live discs.

The bean counters get their money. The fans are happy.

I speak as a person who managed to get a purchase confirmation from PayPal but got the error message from Dig! And still don’t know if I’ll get a copy of 6 and completely missed out on a box because of the software used to limit the sales to one per customer and having an order stuck in some interface.

This was totally of the record companies making and completely avoidable.

TimP

Bowie’s team clearly got caught out manufacturing too many of the Alien box sets. They had to come up with a way to test the market interest in this live series and this was obviously the safest way they deemed. It is definitely a deliberate strategy to piss off fans so there is talk/hype/forum discussion about the box set however negative. They’ll be sitting back now assessing how many more to manufacture to safely meet demand and not get caught with 1000s of overstocks.
Them suggesting they are sorry?? Hahaha!! This may be your best April Fools story yet Paul!

EW99

At least the tote bag is still available.

J.M.D

My 2 cents.
As for this ‘boxset’, I never bothered as I knew it was a shit show waiting to happen from the very get go.
From what I can make out, Bowie spent up to half his fortune buying back the rights to his music, I would say between $100-$150 million U.S (And he still had another $100 million to give to his family in his Will) – the point being that future royalties and such went to his 2 children and now 2 grand-children (And hopefully counting)…This being the case, it makes me wonder how much Duncan casts an eye on what is going on with his Father’s legacy.
Duncan was asked on Twitter about this ‘mess’ and said he knew nothing about it – to me, that’s rather odd, a passing interest on what is being released would seem normal, but maybe the family thinks everything is in the best hands possible. Personally, I still can’t get over the ‘Heroes’ fuck-up on the 3 major boxset…I just can’t believe how that shit got pass quality control and no one took responsibility for it (I had to buy ‘Heroes’ as a separate cd to get a proper version of the song). Did I know David Bowie? of course not, but as a life long fan, I just feel he would not be down with this at all – the Master deserves so much better that this, and so do the long time faithful.

Steven Roberts

Why don’t they just allow you to buy the entire box set as an ‘unlimited’ pre-order? ie they press **as many as needed based on pre-release sales**.

Everyone gets a copy, the label isn’t left with unsold stock – and the scalper market should be reduced (although it won’t go away completely – there’ll always be someone who misses out on the pre-sale or comes to Bowie a bit later).

Seems obvious, really.

Stevie B

The email I received came from nylonmerchandising.com they ‘represent’
many bands. It seems strange given their experience that they would accidentally f*€K up so badly. I ordered from the Bowie U.S. site and Dig! U.K. site, the US site seemed to process orders much more effectively.

Unfortunately I had to buy each item individually with separate postage, so the CD box and final CD from the U.K. store, and the LP from the US store.

If Parlophone are trying to emulate NylonMerch perhaps they should go down the route of subscription magazines (like the Dr Who magazine that come with figures). Sell the initial 1st issue (a CD and the box to put future ‘issues’ in) via bricks and mortar retail shops, and have an online subscription service to deliver each issue directly by mail. Limit sales to regions so U.K. only, E.U. Only, Americas Only etc.
If boxsets are limited number to low figures then number them, otherwise decide on a pressing run and stick to it.

I think Parlophone and the ‘Estate’ has had it’s image tarnished far more than Bowie himself. To charge £12/17 for an empty box must have been run passed the ‘Estate’. Both it and Parlophone come off now as just grubby.

John Berry

Meanwhile, in Heaven, Bowie’s probably laughing his tits off.

Elizabeth

I had the first one on order, but after the debacle over the empty boxes I bailed out and requested (and was granted) a refund – I just hope when the next full era boxset comes out that it’s not the same clown who is in charge of the release, either than or they learn the lessons from this one.

WayneUK

I got the first 5 and the box from Dig with no problem. I can’t even be bothered to go into all the problems l had trying to get #6. Only to say l still haven’t got it. I’ve fired emails off, lve had the odd answer back. The prices on eBay are a joke. I’m refusing to pay them. Will hang on and see what the outcome of all this is now.

Tim Abbott

I’m actually impressed that those in charge managed to create a buzz around what amounts to niche releases from a not-very-interesting chapter of David Bowie’s career. The job of a record company is to sell records, and that’s what they’ve done.

It’s an indisputable fact that if these six live albums from middle-aged Bowie had been made in unlimited quantities, they would have been stuck in bargain bins for years to come. Instead, they’re hot property and set up the buzz for the next career box set very nicely.

It’s good that they’re potentially offering more stock – I missed out on Ouvrez – but I think the demand for this means that Bowie material is still desirable, and with a few tweaks to improve the customer experience this could be a model for future projects.

Also, I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that the empty box offer isn’t a exactly new thing. Off the top of my head. Suede did exactly the same thing for the final three singles (Positivity, Obsessions and Attitude) before their initial split.

Eamonn

One example from 20 years ago of a band in decline is hardly a model template/typical concept.

And Suede’s (arguably) closest contemporary, Pulp, also gave away a free box for their fanclub members in 2002 to house the three CD/DVD versions of their last single Bad Cover Version.

Stuart

Just from a cursory look around my library I’ve got free boxes from the following artists when they did piecemeal issues; Deacon Blue, REM, Gun (x2), Iron Maiden (x2), Marillion and Def Leppard.

The box ‘offer’ from Bowie, coupled with my struggles to get the 2nd disc meant I bailed on this campaign in the early stages.

As I’m a Bowie fan, but not a collector I can live without these releases but I do have sympathy for the fans that went all in on this campaign.

The whole thing is summed up best by the comments that note ‘collecting is meant to be fun, but this wasnt’

Stuart Ansell

That’ll be a “not-very-interesting chapter of David Bowie’s career” in YOUR opinion. Others absolutely love it, find it interesting as all heck.

Tim Abbott

I don’t mind the 90s studio albums.

But there’s an imbalance when there are only one or two live albums from the more interesting and/or ground-breaking eras of his career, and six albums of 90s gigs with a lot of duplicated songs.

Like I said before, this would all be quickly-forgotten bargain bin fodder if these were released in unlimited amounts. Your average Bowie fan isn’t going to play Look At The Moon over Stage or David Live. Your superfan might do, but I doubt anyone else would.

Stuart Ansell

‘I doubt anyone else would’ is another way of saying ‘in my opinion’. Which is all it is, it isn’t fact. Which is fine, but your original post used ‘not very interesting’ in the definitive, rather than qualifying it was opinion. And in your opinion on these would be bargain bin fodder and in your opinion the ‘average fan’ (whomever that might happen to be) wouldn’t play it over stage or David Live. But they’re just opinions, you don’t have any basis in fact outside your own experience. And presenting it as a choice between earlier live albums or later live albums is nonsense – I choose both, as evidenced by my record collection.

On the point of the releases themselves, as digital recording became more prevalent during the ’90’s it became easier for band to record every show in high quality format as a matter of rote, and so there are going to to be more shows available overall from that period onwards – before then the technology was analogue, unwieldy and expensive (reel to reel, then cassette, then DAT, minidisk and a smattering of other formats in-between), relied on outboard equipment and not every artist was fussed about investing in multiple recorded shows.

I think it’s wonderful, miraculous even that we have so many brilliantly recorded shows from artists that I love from the 60’s until the digital recording age (the archiving of king crimson and Zappa remain a delight). These were recorded in spite of the limitations of the technology and remain precious artifacts. But there aren’t going to be as many of them for that very reason – nowadays every show is recorded by every artist as a matter of course – sound engineers don’t have to press a record button, it can be set up to capture automatically, and generally is, even on low end digital desks. If they released every show from the Ziggy tours would I buy them? In a heartbeat. But you can’t release what doesn’t exist, and it’s no use bemoaning the existence and prevalence of that which does.

Anyhoo, have a great Easter – look after yourselves one and all!

Keith

Totally agree probably the mist interesting period since the 70s for me this was a period of Bowie at his best, having fun with music.

Mikael

I agree the -99 shows aren’t very interesting, but the -96 and -97 are great, a very underrated period of late Bowie.
I managed to get them all, except Liveandwell, which I already had the original release of. Didn’t bother with the empty box. Waiting for Kit Kat to arrive.

Wavey Davey

I managed to procure a whole set (only one via third party) but the whole debacle of having to pay separate postage and packing for the box and the sixth CD as they appeared at different times was even more annoying than having to pay a scalper for buying a product that they had no interest in other than a quick profit.

I’m guessing now that having had to individually order and pay P&P for 7 products those of us who have a repetitive strain injury from up to 16 hours of refreshing will feel additionally aggrieved if new copies become easy yo procure as a set. The Bowie web team will now be damned if they do and damned if they don’t now.

I do have a suggestion though as it isn’t just campaigns like this where product goes “straight to eBay” but record store day (online and offline) and other things which only seem to benefit bedroom traders.

Why not, when offering a limited release, open a pre-order page for a period (for example 2 weeks) to allow fans to order product. Once closed these products can be pressed and released maybe a month later. Only at that point should the number of copies placed be made public. In my mind this would not destroy the third party collectible market as there are always people that discover an artist or suddenly find the need or the means to become a completist. This model could work with Independent record stores as well without it becoming a Mecca for eBay merchants. I’ve given up on Record Store day now as it assumes you have transport and are available on a given day. It has defeated the object for me sadly

gwynogue

I managed to get the first three CDs (although the third took over a month to be dispatched) but #4, #5 and #6 were a BUST. By the time I had the money for #4 it was gone. So I decided to prepare for #5 and #6. Waited and waited and waited for #5 pre-order to go live, but by 9 AM (Australia time) nothing had happened. I had to go grocery shopping, got back at 10:30, all gone.

#6 was worse! Woke up at 4:30 AM and saw an e-mail (from only a few minutes earlier) that #6 was ready to order. So I tumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitch…er, computer to place an order. I hoped being unable to sleep that night was going to be a lucky accident, but alas, #6 was all gone within minutes of getting the email.

So this is good news! I just hope this applies to Warner Music Australia (where I bought them from). I’m tempted to get the box – especially if I manage to complete the set.

I’m not bothered that they’re breaking their ‘promise’ of one-run-only. I much prefer seeing people able to buy what they want. Music should be for everyone to enjoy, not just collectors. My heart goes out to people who felt the need to spend ridiculous amounts to eBay/Discogs flippers. I had considered buying from there myself, but the prices were just insane!

Dean

Wowie! This puts all the McCartney iii versions to shame.

Frank

To describe this as a “poor shopping experience” is also an insult. As well as the shambolic, disgraceful and exploitative practices cynically devised to push out this series that are already documented so well here, I also had a terrible experience buying from the Dig store. I purchased a vinyl/CD bundle of the first release, only to discover there was no CD when it arrived. After contacting them I received no response for over a month, when they eventually replied with nothing more than a dismissive email stating that the CD “should” have been shipped by now, rather than actually sorting it out and sending it.
Anyone purchasing from the Dig store in future please be warned of their neglectful customer service and may well be advised to pay with PayPal, as this was the only recourse I was left with to get my money back. Never again!