Two weeks ago, Bob Dylan announced he is releasing a six-disc compilation of recordings he made in 1967, famously known as The Basement Tapes. The set will retail for roughly $150.
Yesterday, U2 announced they are giving away — as in for free — their latest album, Songs of Innocence. Two famous artists are taking drastically different approaches to releasing new music.
If nothing else, it might just show we’re at a crossroads.
Roger Friedman at Showbiz411 suggested the U2 album more or less marks the end of albums as we know it. There is, he argues, no longer enough money in album sales to warrant the costs of printing and distributing albums. It’s easier to give away the album and make money off of tours and other merchandise.
If so, it would seem, CDs are going the way of the 8-track tape and the MiniDisc. Could that be?
While iTunes has no doubt chipped away at traditional album sales for years — just as CDs did previously to tapes and vinyl — it may be too early to say for certain this is the case. I say this as an avid consumer of albums.
In reality, this approach would probably works better for an established group such as U2 rather than an unknown bad playing the local road house. Regardless, it shows every business can — and arguably should — be turned on its head from time to time and continually rethought to deliver the best product to consumers in a format they want.