Message from Steven Wilson

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Steven Wilson Hi folks – just an update on the live CD – don’t worry if you didn’t manage to order one yet, there are plenty left and we will have these on sale on tour and on the website. One further request if I may, is that you don’t order multiple copies unless you genuinely are buying them for other people: we have already had some people trying to buy 10 copies! Although of course the income received is welcome, I prefer that as many people as possible get a copy direct from us at regular price.

This leads on to a broader question, with some people wondering why many SW items are limited editions, and asking why not just make everything unlimited and have done with it, rather than creating this problem for myself and the fans? Alas, it’s not that simple, and the answer to this question depends on many factors. Sometimes I feel a particular release is something I don’t want widely available because I think it’s something only for the more dedicated fans (like the early Tape Experiments LP for example, I just wouldn’t want thousands of copies of that in circulation). More often the limitation is to do with the special packaging I favour. In the case of the cloth-bound book editions the issue is the high investment up front in manufacturing, meaning that it’s not possible to repress in small quantities, when the unit price for manufacture can as much as treble – so we end up having to guess at what might be the demand for them, sometimes getting it wrong and making too few, but mostly getting it about right. What would be a disaster would be to over-estimate and end up not covering costs by making too many, or to repress and then find out that we could only sell another 100 copies. In fact for this reason many releases become de facto limited editions, because the demand is not sufficient to continue to repress, meaning a handful of people end up having to pay a lot of money to get a copy elsewhere. On top of this we find that if we make something limited the interest and quick return on the investment is much greater than what it would be otherwise – I guess it’s is human nature to be more interested in something with a degree of exclusivity about it, I’m a sucker for that kind of thing myself (-:

The downside of all of this is the problem with eBayers taking advantage of the fan base to sell sold out limited editions for as much as 10 times the price they bought it for. I’m still grappling with this problem, and how to deal with it – but I know that the answer is not to simply never make anything limited. This is not only my problem, but one that exists throughout the industry – for example the now bi-annual Record Store Day, which started as a way to get people back into record stores by issuing things only through independent retailers, and not online, quickly became simply a goldmine for eBayers to buy up all the stock and sell to fans at massively inflated prices.

To bring things back to live album, in this case the limitation is not to do with packaging or wanting to make something necessarily exclusive, but because of an agreement with my label KScope. As they will be issuing a full blown live blu-ray/DVD of the forthcoming tour later this year, understandably they were reluctant to see an earlier live release, but accepting the need for me to underwrite the costs of touring, they have agreed that I can do 3,000 copies of it on my own label. The Blu-ray/DVD release will of course be a much more comprehensive document of the current SW live tour…..not to mention unlimited!

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