Compilation album

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A compilation album comprises tracks, which may be previously released or unreleased, usually from several separate recordings by either one performer or by several performers. If the recordings are from one artist, then generally the tracks were not originally intended for release together as a single work, [1] but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set. [2] If the recordings are from several artists, there may be a theme, topic, time period, or genre which links the tracks, [3] [4] or they may have been intended for release as a single work—such as a tribute album. [5] When the tracks are by the same recording artist, the album may be referred to as a retrospective album or an anthology. [6]


Content and scope

Songs included on a compilation album may be previously released or unreleased, usually from several separate recordings by either one or several performers. If by one artist, then generally the tracks were not originally intended for release together as a single work, but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set. Compilation albums may employ traditional product bundling strategies.[ citation needed ]

According to sound technician Richard King, classical music compilations "may require more processing to match tracks coming from various sources and recording venues as well as the different sizes of ensembles." [7]

In Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau said, "While compilation albums by album artists (as opposed to stylistically unified singles specialists) are often useless, sometimes they present themselves as events", citing as examples the 1971 Ray Charles LP A 25th Anniversary in Show Business Salute to Ray Charles, The Kink Kronikles (1972), and Changesonebowie (1976). [8]

Common types

Common types of compilation include:


For multi-artist compilations, royalties are usually pro-rated. In most cases, each artist's per-record royalty rate (typically 12–14% in 1999) [12] is divided by the number of artists on the album. However, some record companies opt to simplify the equation and pay a rounded-off rate, either as a percentage or as a set amount, regardless of the total number of artists on the record. As of 1999, these rates were around 0.5% to 1% or 15–16 cents per record. [12] When a compilation album includes a track from a different record company, the royalties are split between the artist and the original record company. [12] Unless specifically limited by a contract, record companies may release as many greatest hits albums by their recording artist as they wish without requiring the artist's agreement or permission. [13]


In the United Kingdom, the Official Charts company compiles a weekly compilation albums chart, limited to various artists compilations and soundtrack compilations. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Decade of Decadence 81–91 is the first compilation album by the American heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, released on October 19, 1991. It peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard 200 chart. It was the band's sixth album overall and the first of many greatest hits compilations.

<i>Bob Dylans Greatest Hits Volume 3</i> 1994 greatest hits album by Bob Dylan

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Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 is a compilation album by English musician George Harrison, released in October 1989. His second compilation, after the Capitol/EMI collection The Best of George Harrison (1976), it contains songs from Harrison's releases on his Dark Horse record label between 1976 and 1987. The album also includes a 1989 single, "Cheer Down", which was Harrison's contribution to the soundtrack of the film Lethal Weapon 2, and two tracks recorded specifically for the collection: "Poor Little Girl" and "Cockamamie Business". Despite the popularity of Harrison's work over this period – both as a solo artist with his Cloud Nine album (1987), and as a member of the Traveling Wilburys – the compilation failed to achieve commercial success.

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<i>Greatest Hits</i> (Gloria Estefan album) 1992 greatest hits album by Gloria Estefan

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<i>Back in Your Arms</i> 1998 studio album by Amanda Lear

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<i>Best of 50 Cent</i> 2017 greatest hits album by 50 Cent

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