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Billie Eilish Torches Industry Practice of Multiple Physical Variants

Billie Eilish calls out physical variants practice

Photo Credit: Lars Crommelinck / CC by 2.0

Billie Eilish calls out artists who sell multiple variants of physical releases without regard for the environment, leading to fans of Taylor Swift expressing their ire on social media.

The Oscar-winning singer spoke out against the practice of artists releasing multiple physical versions of their albums in different packaging regardless of the negative impact on the environment. While she didn’t name any artists, Taylor Swift fans were quick to assemble online in speculation that Eilish’s comments were singling out their idol.

As Digital Music News has profiled, K-pop artists are also ballooning their earnings — and chart positions — with endless physical releases. Those variations are quickly snapped up by fans eager to ‘collect them all’ regardless of the price tag. Separately, Taylor Swift absolutely dominated the vinyl charts in 2023 with a flood of LP releases, all of which drove serious capital to her bank account.

Eilish herself admits releasing multiple vinyl variants of her latest album, Happier Than Ever, but made a point to use recycled scraps for color variants, with each record shrink-wrapped using sugarcane.

“We live in this day and age where, for some reason, it’s very important to some artists to make all sorts of different vinyl and packaging […] which ups the sales and ups the numbers and gets them more money,” Eilish told Billboard.

“I can’t even express to you how wasteful it is, […] and I find it really frustrating as somebody who really goes out of my way to be sustainable and do the best that I can […] — and then it’s some of the biggest artists in the world making f—ing 40 different vinyl packages that have a different unique thing just to get you to keep buying more.”

“It’s so wasteful, and it’s irritating to me that we’re still at a point where you care that much about your numbers and you care that much about making money — and it’s all your favorite artists doing that s—t.”

Maggie Baird, Eilish’s mother, pointed out that “it counts toward No. 1 albums,” suggesting that Billboard limit the number of variants an album is permitted to have as a possible solution to the problem.

Taylor Swift has become well known for not only releasing the re-recorded versions of her earlier albums, but releasing multiple variations of physical and digital versions of her newer recordings. As a result, Swifties were quick to flock to social media to defend the Eras Tour superstar, whose physical variant practices mimic those common in the K-pop industry.

To combat this, Eilish took to Instagram to clarify that she “wasn’t singling anyone out,” and that she was discussing “industry-wide systemic issues.”

“Okay, so it would be so awesome if people would stop putting words into my mouth and actually read what I said in that Billboard article,” wrote Eilish. “I wasn’t singling anyone out; these are industry-wide systemic issues.”

“When it comes to variants, so many artists release them — including me! Which I clearly state in the article,” she continued. “The climate crisis is now, and it’s about all of us being part of the problem and trying to do better. Sheesh.”

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