Three weeks ago we added the Follow That Dream-poll to our site, since we thought the 10th release on this label was a good time to gather the fan's opinion on the releases so far. Before analysing the input we'd like to thank you all for the tremendous amount of response we got. Nearly 800 fans took the time to fill out the form, which is much more than the input for previous polls. So the first conclusion of the poll must be that the FTD-label lives among fans.
This first conclusion is supported by the results of the first question, about the amount of releases owned. A stunning 53% of the respondents have all releases so far, while not less than 78% have more than 5 FTD-releases. On the average a fan owns 8 FTD-releases.
The buying policy confirms that many of the fans are collectors, since 35% said they buy the FTD-releases anyway since they are collector. This is a bigger share than the people guided by the content represent (32%).
I buy them all, because I'm a collector 35
Depends on the content 32
I buy them all, because it is Elvis, so it is good 21
Depends on my financial circumstances 8
Depends on the availability 4
Although in the comments some people are complaining about the availability, not many people let it influence their buying policy. The people that buy a FTD CD because of the content have 6 of them. This implies that more than half of the releases were considered to be promising beforehand.
Indeed the appreciation for the label is high. The average score for all releases together is just above 8. The two highest rated releases are no real surprises. "One Night in Vegas" wins hands down with 9.4. The only CD that could get near was "The Jungle Room Sessions", with an average of 9.2.
One Night in Vegas 9.4
The Jungle Room Sessions 9.2
6363 Sunset 8.5
Long Lonely Highway 8.1
Burbank '68 8.1
Easter Special 8.0
Tucson '76 7.6
Out of Hollywood 7.5
Too Much Monkey Business 6.7
In a Private Moment 6.7
We think the bottom of this list has more surprises. Both "In a Private Moment" and "Too Much Monkey Business" got an average rating of "only" 6.7. Obviously the first is rated mainly on sound quality. This looks a bit unfair regarding the origin of the (home) recordings, we expected fans to keep that in mind while rating and we thought they would value it more based upon the uniqueness of the material. The relatively low score for "Too Much Monkey Business" is less surprising, since we already know many fans doesn't like "messing with Elvis' recordings". To see the difference in rating we can use the standard deviation (from the mean). Looking at the standard deviation of both releases, respectively 2.2 and 2.5, we can clearly see that the rating for "Too Much Monkey Business" is spread much more. We divided the ratings in 3 classes, based upon the standard deviation (1-4, 5-8, 9-10) to show this difference in the next figure:
"In a Private Moment" got obviously less extreme votes, both low and high, than "Too Much Monkey Business".
One last thing we noticed from the ratings of the CD's. All together 6600 CD's were rated, while the same respondents posses "only" 6100 FTD-releases. Probably a part of the difference is rated without having heard them, which seems unfair. Of course it is possible that they were heard elsewhere. We can only hope that this fairly large amount doesn't exist of illegal copies, since that will bring the label in danger on the long term. This is very unfair to the loyal fans, many of them begging for such releases for so long. Hopefully the rightful owners see this point too, and won't co-operate with this practise.
The upcoming "That's The Way It Was" book and CD combination is highly appreciated beforehand. Asked about the initiative and if they would buy such extra releases almost 50% answered "Great! Expand it to DVD's, multi media CDroms or whatsoever.". Only a little 2% of the respondents will probably not buy such a release. For the other fans it will depend on price and amount or content.
Not for me, it will probably be too expensive. 2
I like the idea, but it shouldn't be too expensive or too often. 34
Great! Expand it to DVD's, multi media CDroms or whatsoever. 49
No idea, I want to see it first. 14
Fans are more reserved about possible "commercially unattractive" re-releases like soundtracks on the label. Even more than half of the people that stated they'd buy new FTD's anyway since they are collectors, fail to buy these blindly. Only 14% will buy them anyway, but 75% will buy it if there are enough additional unreleased tracks. The remaining 11% will not buy them.
Of course we had to make a wish list too. We tried to do that without speculation about what might be available and what not. We just gave some general categories to choose from. Almost a quarter of the contributors say that it doesn't matter. The Top 5 of the specific choices that were made is as follows:
70's: outtakes 16
50's: outtakes 9
70's: rehearsals 9
69: live 8
71: live 7
While we saw some comments like "too much seventies" by several people, this list shows that the majority doesn't have any problems with that material. Just outside the Top 5, but still amazing: 5% of the people are looking forward to Elvis at his worst (no, not the movies, but live in 1977) on this label.
Looking at the average score of the CD's one can't expect many complaints about the content of the label. Indeed only 3% think that the content is a weak point of the label. The worst side of FTD is the lack of information. Apparently Ernst Jorgensen thinks this shouldn't be a problem, because the label is for collectors and most collectors will have his book "A Life in Music" too, as he stated on many occasions. Well, either the fans are too lazy to look things up, they think the book isn't complete enough or many simply don't have the book.
As the figure above shows almost a quarter of the customers think that there's nothing wrong with the label. The people that had "other" complaints focused mainly on the package. But combinations like price/content or price/packaging were seen often too and also quite some complaints about the sound quality (Easter Special was named several times).
The general comments show an overall positive attitude towards the label too. We got many more positive comments than negative. The comments showed that the price, packaging and lack of information are really hot topics, since many started about them again. Also this open question showed the diversity among fans: about as many people that were complaining that the release rate is too high, said that they want more. Against our wishes we got individual wish lists, which we completely ignored. Some stranger even broke both guidelines (the before mentioned one and "keep it short") by submitting a complete petition. Indeed that one ended up in the virtual garbage can.
The abbreviation "DVD" was seen often, but we wonder if BMG could do something with that, since the movie rights are somewhere else. "Too Much Monkey Business" was named several times, looking at the comments most of them were done by people that voted extremely low for this release. The hate for the so-called "Guitar Man"-sessions is very deep. But at least one fan wants the rest of the session too, and one even wants a new overdub session. Those two can't beat the phrases "misstep", "poor", "ripped-off", "don't sacrifice quality for quantity", "only minor false is the release of", and even the well known 4-letter word for relief was submitted in this case. On the other hand people should have known what they bought, it was clearly stated this was an "extra" release that didn't influence the existence of the label.