Compilation album

A compilation album comprises tracks, which 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,[1] but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set.[2] If from several performers, 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.

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:

  • "Greatest hits", "best of", or "singles collection" LPs, gathering together an artist's or a group's best-known songs. If the artist or group continues to record, compilers commonly include one or more previously unreleased tracks as an incentive for fans to buy the album, even if they already have the other material on the compilation.[9]
  • Other single-artist compilations, such as rarities or B-side collections, albums compiled from radio sessions, songs performed by an artist exclusively for a film soundtrack or collections that combine multiple releases, such as LPs and EPs together on one or more compact discs. Such compilations generally target existing fans of the artist and have little mainstream appeal, though postmortem compilations of unreleased materials from recently deceased artists have significant popularity.
  • Box sets, elaborate multi-disc collections often covering the entire breadth of an artist's career or the full sweep of an entire record label or genre. Many anthologies are released in this format.
  • Various artist themed compilations, e.g. love songs, Christmas songs, songs featuring a particular instrument (such as saxophone or piano), one-hit wonders, and countless other variations. Original work by various artists for a single album or single, such as Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You or Band-Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed The World) occasionally get erroneously mentioned as compilation albums or singles due to the fact that the songs are a compilation of various singers or musicians, however, they are original albums, not compilation albums.
  • Various artist genre compilations, e.g. jazz, synthpop, rock, etc. These may be from the same time period (Year, decade or era, for example.), or may incorporate a common theme, as a soundtrack exemplifies well.[10]
  • Various artist hit compilations. This has been a very successful part of the album market since the early 1970s. Recent hit singles are gathered together in one place. In the 1970s, these were often single vinyl LPs with 10 to 12 tracks or more. In the 1980s, a double album with 6 or 8 tracks on each side became the norm. Now that CDs are the dominant format, these compilations are usually released on one, two, or three CDs.[11]
  • Promotional compilations or samplers. These are creative, successful forms of promotion for artists or record labels to promote their music. Generally, these types of releases are free or cost very little for the consumer or end listener. Elektra Records released the first sampler albums in the 1950s.
  • Private label promotional compilations. Promotional compilation CDs can be private labeled for products, retail outlets, or commercial organizations or non-profit organizations. Artists and labels like to co-brand themselves with well-known brands for marketing purposes, and transversely well-known brands like to co-brand themselves with artists.
  • Business-to-business promotional compilations. The music industry may use other types of promotional compilations within a business-to-business context to promote artists to media concerns (radio stations, music supervisors for TV, film or video games for synchronization)
  • Composer/producer albums/record label. Many hip hop producers will release a compilation album which features various artists, but with each track composed by the same producer or it is under the same record label.


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 1/2% 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


  1. ^ McDonald, Heather (30 April 2018). "A Definition of, and Look at, Compilation Albums". The Balance Careers. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  2. ^ Marc Burrows (20 November 2013). "Why a greatest hits album can be the band's greatest".
  3. ^ "Definition of 'compilation album'".
  4. ^ Emily Jupp (25 September 2015). "32 years of NOW music compilations".
  5. ^ Michael Hann (9 April 2018). "Covered in glory: the tribute albums that saved careers and changed lives".
  6. ^ "Definition of retrospective in English".
  7. ^ King, Richard (2016). Recording Orchestra and Other Classical Music Ensembles. Taylor & Francis. p. 223. ISBN 1317520815.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "The Criteria". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved 6 April 2019 – via
  9. ^ "TLC to Release Greatest Hits Compilation to Accompany Biopic, New Album Coming in 2014". Pitchfork. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  10. ^ Gentile, John (8 November 2013). "Deadmau5 Compilation 'We Are Friends Vol. 2' – Album Premiere". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  11. ^ Suchet, Richard (28 November 2013). "Now Compilation Albums Celebrate 30 Years". Sky News. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  12. ^ a b c Brian McPherson (1999). Get It in Writing: The Musician's Guide to the Music Business. Hal Leonard Corp. p. 68. ISBN 9780793566990. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  13. ^ Brian McPherson (1999). Get It in Writing: The Musician's Guide to the Music Business. Hal Leonard Corp. p. 89. ISBN 9780793566990.
  14. ^ "UK Top 40 Compilation Albums", BBC, retrieved 2012-04-01
16 Biggest Hits (Johnny Cash album)

16 Biggest Hits is a compilation album by country singer Johnny Cash released in 1999.

The album is made of the biggest hits of Cash's career like "Ring of Fire", "Understand Your Man", and "A Boy Named Sue". The album also contains several songs which weren't hits such as "I Still Miss Someone", and "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer".

Cash had 13 US #1 country hits between the years 1956 and 1976, with this album containing only 8 of them.The album was certified 2× Platinum in 2005 by the RIAA. It has sold 3,203,000 copies in the US as of May 2013.

Another Merzbow Records

Another Merzbow Records is a compilation album by the noise artist Merzbow, released in 2010.

It compiled tracks from various other compilations and splits from 1991–2001, most of which are out of print. It came as 3 CDs in individual full-colour sleeves, pack in a bronze coloured slipcase. The set was limited to 1000 copies.

Biggest Hits (Johnny Cash album)

Biggest Hits is a compilation album by country singer Johnny Cash released in 1984 on Columbia Records, consisting of previously released recordings.


Duals is a compilation album by the Irish rock band U2. It was released in April 2011 to subscribers.

Encore (Johnny Cash album)

Encore is a compilation album and 67th overall album with new or live tracks by country singer Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in 1981 (see 1981 in music). Aside from a handful of songs from previous Cash records, including the hit single "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", it contains one newly recorded song, titled "Song of the Patriot"; it features Marty Robbins. The song was released as a single, with minor chart success. "Without Love" was also released as a single.

Five Feet High and Rising

Five Feet High and Rising is a compilation album of songs performed by country singer Johnny Cash, released in 1974 on Columbia Records.

The album is made of songs from the 1960s up to the album Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me. It rose to #33 on the Billboard Album chart.

The song of the same name was referenced by De La Soul with the title "Three Feet High and Rising" for their 1989 debut album.

Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (Johnny Cash album)

Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 is a compilation album by country singer Johnny Cash, released in 1967 (see 1967 in music) on Columbia Records. It is notable in that it marks the first appearance of "Jackson", Cash's famous duet with his future wife, June Carter. The track would appear on Carryin' On with Johnny Cash and June Carter in August of that same year. The album was certified Gold on 7/24/1969 and Platinum and 2x Platinum on 11/21/1986 by the RIAA.

Heart of Cash

The Heart of Johnny Cash is the 29th overall album released by country singer Johnny Cash. It was released in 1968 (see 1968 in music). In essence, it is a compilation album, though a handful of new recordings were included. Three songs from the album became moderately successful singles, while a version of "Girl in Saskatoon" was released on Personal File in 2006. The album was only available via Television marketing sales, and was not released to retail stores. It has not been released on CD.

Howlin' Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin' Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." Producer Sam Phillips recalled, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'" Several of his songs, including "Smokestack Lightnin'", "Killing Floor" and "Spoonful", have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".

The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2

The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 is a compilation album released in the U.K., New Zealand, Australia and Canada on November 28, 2000. It is the sequel to The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 1, released 3 years earlier in 1997. It was later released in Europe and Japan; although it has never been released in the United States.

The Best of Bob Dylan (1997 album)

The Best of Bob Dylan is a compilation album released in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Canada on 2 June 1997. It was later released in Europe and Japan; although it has never been released in the United States.

The Big Beat 1963

The Big Beat 1963 is a compilation album released on December 17, 2013 exclusively through digital distribution. It features selections of early demos and recordings made by Brian Wilson in the early 1960s with such acts as the Beach Boys and the Honeys.The compilation's release came as a result of revised European copyright laws, forcing some labels to publish unreleased archival material so that they will not lose their copyright.

The Story of The Who

The Story of The Who is a 2-LP compilation album from The Who. The album was released in the UK in September 1976. The album reached number two in the UK charts. Another version of this collection with a different track listing was also released in Japan. This collection has not been released on CD.

The exploding pinball machine comes from film shot for a TV advertisement of the album.John Entwistle didn't think the album was truly definitive. The Who could only release the tracks that they had the rights to.

The Ultimate Monty Python Rip Off

The Ultimate Monty Python Rip Off is a compilation album released by Monty Python in 1994 on the occasion of their 25th anniversary. The album contains no previously unreleased material and was released as a sampler for the simultaneous release of The Instant Monty Python CD Collection box set.

Wanted Man (Johnny Cash album)

Wanted Man is a compilation album from country singer Johnny Cash and was released in 1994. This album contains some popular songs of Cash like "Wanted Man" and "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town"; it also has the remake of the song "Ballad of A Teenage Queen" (from the 1988 album Water from the Wells of Home). When Cash signed with Mercury Records, his popularity went down, but the album got some attention. It does not contain his 'big hits'.It should not be confused with Wanted Man, a later collection of hits released by Columbia Records.

Where No One Stands Alone (album)

Where No One Stands Alone is a compilation album by American singer Elvis Presley (1935–77). It was released worldwide on August 10, 2018 by RCA Records and Legacy Recordings, entering at #1 on Billboard' Christian Album chart and remaining there for two weeks and in the Top Ten for an additional two weeks. The album features archival vocal recordings of Elvis mostly from the gospel albums How Great Thou Art (1967) and He Touched Me (1972) accompanied by newly-recorded instrumentation and backing vocals. The album's title track, "Where No One Stands Alone", is a newly recorded duet with Lisa Marie Presley.

¡Hello Friends!

¡Hello Friends! (subtitled Jack Dangers plays with the records of Tino Corp.) is a compilation album DJ'ed by Jack Dangers including music produced by himself and Ben Stokes.

History of music and
Classical history
  • Performance
  • Ensembles
Education and study
By sovereign state
Related articles

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.