But what to collect is not always obvious. At one time, the thought of collecting comic books was absurd. Same with baseball cards. They were just kid’s stuff, right?
Now, collecting has become a global phenomenon, and, fortunately (or otherwise), civilization has produced a lot – a LOT – of stuff to collect. Some things just pass us by, though, until it’s too late to get in on the ground floor when they’re still cheap.
There are indeed plenty of things to collect right now that have the potential to be worthwhile investments. In terms of recordings and music memorabilia, it’s obvious that we’re on a sharp upward curve in original vinyl records. It’s also obvious that compact discs are on a sharp downward curve. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to collect CDs, only that a collector needs to be smart about it.
Let’s look briefly at DVDs. In the rush to downloading and streaming, DVDs are on a faster popularity descent than CDs. Like vinyl, there may be a resurgence of interest in physical DVDs at some point in the future. Probably, though, it will not be as large a wave as LPs are enjoying now because DVDs will not have the same kind of nostalgic hook. Still, there are some things a DVD can offer that simple streaming can’t (at least not yet).
Don’t discount the tactile, physical nature of DVDs, with their images and information. And, all that extra stuff probably won’t be ported to the streaming services, either.
Here are some examples pulled at random:
The original Warner Bros. DVD and Blu-Ray combined release of Martin Scorsese’s classic concert footage of “The Last Waltz” went out of print quickly. There is a current Blu-Ray edition, but it lacks extra footage, a couple audio commentaries, and a new documentary, “Revisiting The Last Waltz.”
The excellent U2 concert captured in the documentary, “Under A Blood Red Sky,” is out of print, and prices on Amazon currently range from $25 to $90 for copies in its original deluxe plastic case. There a nice booklet that comes with the DVD, and the director commentary is sure to be missing from the streaming options.
Virtually unknown in the country, Slade were one of Britain’s biggest and best bands of the ‘70s before punk. Their very worthy dramatic film, “Slade In Flame,” was released on DVD in the U.S. by Shout Factory in 2004. It is OOP but still found relatively inexpensively. For now. Streaming, yes, but no poster insert, and no 50-minute interview.
Classical music on DVD is perhaps even more ephemeral than pop music. Three superb versions of Alban Berg’s masterful expressionist opera “Lulu” were all released on DVD around the same time in 2010-2011. Two are still in print, or, rather, you can still buy new copies. The Deutsche Grammophon DVD with Patricia Petibon is cheap at $22.00 new, while Opus Arte’s Royal Opera House performance with Agneta Eichenholz is $32.00. But the ArtHaus Musik release with Laura Aikin is OOP, and there’s currently one copy on Amazon for $88.00. Now, these may or may not be available for downloading or streaming, but the DVDs have very nice cover designs and each has extensive booklets with notes and photographs.
The question is, of course, will the physical media matter? Will nice packaging and photographs and booklets and “extras” matter to someone in the future, someone who will want the actual DVD? That’s what makes collecting such an interesting challenge when gazing into the crystal ball. Who would have thought vinyl would come back? Why, even cassettes are being made again! The DVD may become a dinosaur format, but I’m willing to bet some of these boxes will be highly sought after. And valuable.