For music collectors, just listening to music by a band isn’t enough. They want everything a band has done, and first releases when possible. Just came across an extreme example of this while hunting for music CDs at yard sales. Darkthorne is a Norwegian black metal band who recorded an influential CD in 1991 called A Blaze In The Northern Sky. The first release had a white background on the CD. The second release shortly afterwards on the same label had a black background on the CD. There are no other differences.
Discogs is a marketplace to buy and sell CDs and vinyl. You can research what something has sold for on their site. In this case, the first release white label has a median price of $128.99. The second release black label is less than one-fifth of that, at $22.73. More recent versions on other labels are much less.
And that’s the difference. Hardcore collectors will always pay more for a first release. It’s not just rarity that governs price. Lots of CDs and vinyl are rare – and worthless – because no one wants them. I knew nothing about Darkthrone however could tell immediately based on a high price for an obscure CD that they are highly regarded in some circles. To command a high price, it needs to be rare and sought-after.
Conversely, there is lots of amazing music out there and the CDs sell for pennies. Often this is because the artist or release is so popular that millions of copies are floating around. So, it’s not rare at all.