Today I got an odd-looking piece of mail: a large blue plastic bag closed by a zip tie and sporting a Swedish customs tag. Big and heavy, I wasn’t sure what was in it, mostly because it was something I ordered six months ago and was a month late – the super special super duper edition of the Fireman album, Electric Arguments.
Inside the bag, a large padded envelope. Inside that, a thin paper bag with a bit “F” on it. The top secured by a charcoal-bag sewn paper strip. Inside that, a heavy metal box.
The box is meant to resemble a 1/2″ master tape box. Inside is a plethora of goodies: the album on vinyl, a book, two art prints, the album on CD, a CD of bonus tracks (remixes and such), a DVD of video and 24 bit 96 kHz PCM audio files, and a DVD of multi-track sessions for some of the tracks. Inside the lid of the box was a master tape label, some doodles, and Sir Paul’s autograph.
I was concerned about the cost of the big set, but the packaging is well worth the $80 I spent on it. ($80 was the pre-order cost – the super deluxe package has since gone up to $100.)
There is a design firm now specializing in these premium music packages, called Artist In Residence. They did the Nine Inch Nails Ghosts deluxe package, and they have a new Pixies set which looks cool. Their editions are expensive, but they’re not intended for mass consumption – they definitely target the True Fan demographic. And they show that there is a market for this kind of thing.
The one thing all of these have in common are availability in digital download format. Which should tell the Music Industry something. You can sell digital copies of your music that are easily copied, and still sell physical copies to folks who want it – at a premium if the packaging offers something special.