Music & Musicians

Why Guns N' Roses fans may be willing to part with $1,000 for the 'holy grail' of an anniversary edition album

Slash and Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses perform onstage in Madison Square Garden last October.
Kevin Mazur | Getty Images

Hard rock fans, get ready to empty your wallets.

On June 29, Guns N' Roses will commemorate the 30th anniversary edition of the group's landmark album, "Appetite for Destruction" – and it will cost a whopping $999.

In 1988, the original album topped the Billboard charts, buoyed by hit singles like "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City." In 2017, Billboard magazine said "Appetite for Destruction" had sold a staggering 30 million copies worldwide, leading some to think the album deserved a reissue.

In fact, it's getting a few different ones. There's a no-frills re-release of the original album and a two-disc edition with bonus tracks. More serious fans may opt for the "Super Deluxe Edition," with four audio discs, a Blu-ray Disc, a hardcover book and lots of memorabilia.

But for some, that's still not enough. Enter the "Locked N' Loaded" $999 edition, a box set that comes in a faux leather and wood cabinet. It contains everything in the "Super Deluxe Edition" and lots more: The package will include numerous mementos such as logo patches, guitar picks, never-before-seen band photos and posters.

Some fans have balked at the album's huge price tag, but considering the wealth of goodies contained therein, there's an argument to be made for that price point, some music industry experts told CNBC recently. Time will tell if there's enough demand for its 10,000-unit production run, but several observers think "Locked N' Loaded" will have no problem finding 10,000 different places to call home.

"Guns N' Roses has gobs of fans across the globe who were teens or of college age during the band's heyday," said Rafe Gomez, co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing.

"Many of these Guns N' Roses devotees, who are now adults, have the disposable cash to invest in the band's new release," he added.

Armen Shaomian, a professor of entertainment at the University of South Carolina, pointed out that fans used to paying scalpers for last minute concert tickets may not even bat an eye at the set's price.

"Fans pay well over $1,000 on either secondary premium tickets or for those V.I.P. experiences that many bands offer," he said.

The price is also justified because anyone interested in this set is thinking about more than just the music, according to Denny Somach, a Grammy-award music producer, author and rock historian.

"It's no doubt a high-priced item, but this is more of an experience being purchased as opposed to just another collector's box set," Somach said. Consumers should get used to seeing more such high-end collector's sets. "These kinds of products will become more commonplace as acts look to market their legacy," he said.

For an extreme case of legacy marketing, legendary Kiss bassist Gene Simmons released a 10-disc set in 2017. The so-called vault had an option to be hand-delivered to the purchaser's home by the Kiss bassist himself for $50,000.

Guns N' Roses' album "needs to be viewed as a one-time experience as opposed to a deluxe edition package," Somach added.

Anyone worried that the Geffen Records warehouse will end up a home to thousands of copies of the "Locked N' Loaded" set can take comfort in the fact that the band's "Not In This Lifetime" tour last year reaped over $300 million, according to Billboard data.

The band's enduring popularity suggests there's fertile ground for uber-fans – such as New York resident Steven Jacobson — eager to get their hands on the ultimate commemorative album, regardless of the price.

Jacobson, president of Hopkinson Real Estate, has seen the band over 200 times, met its members and owns copious amounts of rare memorabilia. He's already preordered his "Locked N' Loaded" copy, which he told CNBC was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up.

"This isn't about money," he said. "This is an experience. The holy grail for the Guns N' Roses fan."