With FTD Elvis Collector Releases, Do You Get What You Pay For? (Conductor’s Reflections #2)

A comment from Ray on my previous post inspired today’s entry, making me ask, “Are CDs in the Follow That Dream Records collector series worth the price for Elvis fans?”

I’m going to discuss this issue in terms of American dollars and prices because that is the information to which I have easiest access. However, I’m sure that the underlying concepts of what I’m talking about will be applicable in whichever currency you choose to deal in. You’ll just have to do the conversion for yourself, because I’m too lazy to do that.

The cost of your average FTD collector release CD is about $29.98 US. At least here, these releases are not available in stores, so you’re also likely going to be paying for shipping. Standard shipping is going to run you about $6.85. If you buy more than one at a time, which I tend to do, you can often save on overall shipping.

However, to keep our example simple, I’ll include shipping in the price of the CD and assume we’re talking about buying just one release at a time. That brings our grand total to $36.83. For convenience, we’ll even round that up to $37.

At first glance, that seems like a hefty price for a CD release. However, whether it is worth it depends on which FTD you are buying. The recent Good Times release contained 47 tracks spread over two CDs. That works out to about $0.79 a track.

The average price for downloading a music track on iTunes or Amazon is $0.99. You’ve saved $0.20 a track, plus received the full-fledged CD versions in perfect sound and a booklet packaged in a nice case about the length and width of an old 45 RPM record sleeve. In addition, many of these tracks are not even available on iTunes or Amazon (they should be, but that’s an editorial for another day).

The single disc releases, of course, give you less overall value per track. The High Sierra concert release I was talking about in my last post is one CD at 28 tracks. That works out to about $1.32 a track. If it turns out to be a great concert, that is probably worth it. If it’s a dud, then you’re probably better off saving your money for a different release. We won’t know for sure until it’s released and the online reviews start rolling in.

Most of the single disc releases come in a smaller case and do not include a booklet. Coming in at 21 tracks, last year’s single disc The Wonder of You works out to $1.76 a track.

That’s a steal, worth every single penny. This August 13, 1970, performance is one of the best FTD releases thus far. I would have been willing to pay double the price or more.

I don’t buy every FTD release, though. Far from it. At around 12 releases a year, the $37 price tag prevents me from doing that. This is probably a good thing, because it makes me be selective rather than blindly buying every release simply because it has the name “Elvis” on it.

I have found that the best Elvis purchases are CDs and DVDs, so if you’re debating between an FTD CD and an Elvis “collectible” rubber ducky, PEZ dispenser, bobble head, or what have you, do yourself a favor and spend the money on the CD. At least you’re getting something that Elvis had some hand in creating. Who cares about a bobble head?

When you’re buying FTDs, especially those that have already been out for awhile, it’s always a good idea to check online for reviews. Find a reviewer out there that you trust. For me, I go with the opinions of Thomas over at Elvis Today. We tend to agree on most things Elvis – so if he likes a release, I’ll probably like it, too. (By the way, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out his great FTD-related post this week.)

With over 80 FTDs to choose from so far, you’ll find that some are well worth the price and others may spend more time on your shelf than in your CD player.

Finally, we have to remember that this is a collectors label with a very limited distribution. We pay a premium at times, but it sure beats only being able to buy mainstream releases like Elvis 75: Good Rockin’ Tonight or 30 #1 Hits. Or, worse, Elvis bobble heads.

* * *

Thanks, Ray, for inspiring today’s post!

2 thoughts on “With FTD Elvis Collector Releases, Do You Get What You Pay For? (Conductor’s Reflections #2)

  1. Generally, I have to say that I look much more forward to the classic album releases from FTD, as they offer much more value nowadays (contentwise, as well as moneywise). But there is always an exception (or two!) to the rule, like The Wonder Of You relsease, that you mentioned, Tygrrius.

    As for the High Sierra concert I played two bootlegs from that particular engagement today, and not only is the sound very good, the concerts in themselves are quit exciting, too. The repertoire is good and varied, and Elvis in high spirits. One of them is the closing show, held at 3 o’ clock in the morning on May 27, and in a way I feel that one should’ve been released by FTD, as the closing shows always tend to be something else. On the other hand Ernst has choosen a concert not released by bootleggers, and I applaud that.

    Finally, thank you for your kind words about my blog Elvis Today, Tygrrius!


    • I agree with you about the Classic Album series (that’s the two-disc variations that I mentioned above, folks). The funny thing is, when that series was first announced, I was actually disappointed!

      At first, I saw it as a way to make us re-buy the same studio master tracks all over again. Instead, it’s a great in-depth way to study the recording session(s) that make up each of his albums.

      The Classic Album series is really for the Elvis scholars, those that want to really listen to how each song progressed. That series is really about Elvis the artist – something that is all too often overlooked in today’s view of him.

      That being said, I don’t even buy all of the Classic Album series. I’d like to go back and pick most of them up eventually, though.

      The only ones that are “automatic” purchases for me are CDs containing 1968 comeback, 1969 live, summer 1970 rehearsal, or summer 1970 live material.


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