The music business is evolving by the day forcing artists to find innovative ways to sell their recordings. Touring and mechandizing have taken over as the core revenue drivers. However, the margins for artists are thinning here as well so artists are innovating in the most creative ways. The focus seems to be to return value to the actual product: the songs. If the actual song is easy to attain and can be individually bought through platforms such as iTunes, then the goal is to wrap tangible value, speciality, exclusivity, talkability, around the albums. Sometimes this is done through complimentary value offerings that work with the existing purchasing platforms, sometimes they are purposefully not done so in order for the buying ritual to be more greatly remembered.
The first example of infusing value in a record is by A Fine Frenzy who developed a full multi-media package for the launch of their new album Pine that included both a book and film (see here). The way that they were able to accomplish this and make it cool is through a broader narrative that flows between all the different multi-media pieces. This is facilitated by the theme of the album: a fable about a pine tree who is given the chance to make a life of her choosing. The songs are the musical score, and the book and film make the visual story. There are limited edition merchandise off of the core multi-media offering making the total launch absolutely brilliant.
The second example of cool innovation in the music business comes from renown Canadian DJ Kid Koala. For the launch of his new album (12 Bit Blues) he offered a unique premium to those that actually bought the album in vinyl: a DIY turntable along with a flexidisc containing three bonus tracks that you could play on the cardboard turntable, giving it a raw and authentic feel. While the release was available on CD and download, he wanted people to appreciate the album by making it part of a real collection, not simply a digital one. Moreover, the blues vibe of the album made it perfect for a gramaphone-type listening experience. Have a look a the video that brings to life the initiative.
The last examples of music industry innovation comes from Sweden by the band Shout Out Louds. For the launch of their new single titled Blue Ice they developed limited edition records made out of ice. The album is called Optica but they really wanted to make a bang with their opening single. The limited edition record came in the form of a plastic mould and bottle of water packaged in a nice box. By following the simple instructions you were able to make your own pressing and listen to it… but quickly so that you don’t ruing your turntable! Joking aside, the idea is really cool (pardon the pun) because it makes you really want the added value item and thus makes the song and album more memorable. Certainly the band will be remembered as being incredibly creative. Have a look.