Versions and variants, what are they and what is the difference. Before we get into that we should talk about one thing, types of collectors.
In my mind there are two types of collectors. Completionist collectors and non-completionist collectors (could not think of a better term). Completionist collectors, like myself, want to have an example of every single CD put out by a group. This includes all versions and variants. A non-completionist is fine with having one example of each track the group has recorded, or even just every album put out by a group. There is no right or wrong way to collect, it is a do it as you like type of hobby. That being said, this section will be geared almost exclusively towards completionists.
Version and variant, what do these terms mean. Well, I don’t know if anyone besides me actually uses these terms. I use them to denote differences between issues of the same release. First we will look at variants as it is the easiest.
A variant is simply the same release with a different appearance. The content of the release is the same, same songs, same liner notes, all the same. The only difference will be in the appearance of the CD, usually the cover. I suppose a good example of this would be Pikarin – Bababahbabaumkuchen★/Geboku Gebo Gebo.
All of the musical content in the five CDs is exactly the same.
Versions on the other hand can vary wildly in content. For this we will look at BiSH – KiLLER BiSH. This came in 3 versions, HMV-Loppi, Live (limited and regular variations) and standard. All three come with the same CD with the same 13 tracks, the difference comes in the extras. The HMV-Loppi (also exclusive to HMV stores) came with a DVD that had an MV and an exclusive live event. The Live version has the full IDOL SWiNDLE TOUR FINAL on its DVD. Quite the difference in content, but of course also quite the difference in price. As mentioned before, the Live version came in limited and regular variants which contained the same content but had different appearance.
One group that really knows how to do version/variants is BiS. For almost every single they put out there were three versions and two variants of each version, making a total of six CDs for each single release. That is quite the collection to try and put together.
Another thing that bears mentioning are venue and store exclusives. As we have seen with BiSH above a store exclusive will probably contain some extra content if it is just a release version. Sometimes a release is only available from a singular store chain. A few examples are BiS – nerve (Tower Records), Pikarin – The Dogeza Road (Village Vanguard) and DaiDaiDai – 伐伐伐(Tower Records). These can be somewhat difficult to find if you are not paying attention why they first come out as they tend to be smaller runs and sell out quickly.
Venue exclusives are a whole other area of collecting all together. These can be some of the hardest items to find for anyone that lives outside of Japan. These are CDs sold only at live events, and sometimes only for one or two of them.
The venue only CDs that are mentioned in discographies usually contain first versions of songs or are the only version of the song. They may also contain two artists doing each others songs or two group collaborating. Examples of these are BiSH – CHAOS PARTY (split single with Legendary Six Nine), FRUITPOCHETTE – 幻惑-CHOCOLATEBITS- and Zenbu Kimi no Sei da. – キミ色シンドローム/患いハレルヤ. These are not impossible to obtain, but they can cost a bit. I have never heard of a venue exclusive produced in quantities over 1000 and are usually produced in lower quantities than that.
Another type of venue only release is what I like to call the “one off”. These are made by very new groups or are just a quick release by established groups to give out to fans at certain events. They are produced in CD-R format in extremely low numbers, usually less than 100. I have one from NECRONOMIDOL that was created for one show and is not labeled, I am not sure how many were made but if I had to guess it was probably from 20-50 copies. It is just an off-vocal version of ASTODAN (from the NEMESIS album) and is more of a curiosity than anything I would put in a discography. of course this is the only way to get this particular track in an off-vocal format.
“DEMO” and Promo CDs
I did want to mention demo CDs, or more accurately what groups call a demo CD, now these do not tend to exist much in idol, at least that I have noticed. They do pop up in other genres. Some that come to mind are BRIDEAR – Pray / Another Name, GⱯLMET – LOVE MET and Mary’s Blood – Save the Queen / the fifth Inferno. I do not consider these actual demos as they are produced to be sold at venues or retail. These will usually be the very first release by the group which is probably why they are termed demos. A true demo CD will contain a rough version of the song just to give an idea of the group’s sound, say to a prospective label.
Now of course are also promo CDs which are given out to stores or radio stations as a promotion of the group. These disc are fully finished versions of he song or release by the group to try and entice prospective businesses to carry the item or give it radio play. I have only found one promo and it is for BiS- Brand-new Idol Society.
Next: Storing Your Collection