Radiohead made the biggest splash in the music industry recently by giving away its new album online for free… or whatever you choose to pay for it. But the band certainly isn’t alone in trying to innovate and improve on an economic distribution model that is rapidly decaying. Much like in the movie biz, music artists are playing with ways to bundle digital files with tangible items. In the latest example, Matchbox Twenty has put its new album, Exile on Mainstream, on a USB bracelet, complete with 17 songs, a music video, band interviews, album art and customizable computer extras. The idea here is not just to elevate kitsch, but to add value and a legitimate revenue stream in the eternal war against digital piracy.
My opinion? The extras are nice, but the $35 price tag is too high. For that amount of money, I’d want a live concert recording, possibly with event photos and other tidbits. Reportedly some bands are trying to do just that, but certainly the practice isn’t widespread. That will take time.
Where I do think the Matchbox Twenty approach might work is in the hysterical tween market. Can you imagine this type of thing for the latest Hannah Montana album? (If you don’t know, don’t ask.) Possibly with downloadable graphics you can print directly on t-shirts and lunch bags? I can hear their giddy screams now.