I’m not sure how many of you guys over the pond know of this, but over here in the UK there’s a magazine in the UK called Classic Rock who’ve been blazing ahead creating magazines that are made to be released in conjunction with albums; it’s like the ultimate guide to that album. So far they’ve only been released with smaller acts and albums like Slash or Whitesnake, but it’s just been announced they’ve pulled off a big signing – They’re doing the next Rush album. Not a band that settles for mid-level UK venues and small US venues for tours but a genuinely massive band. It got me thinking; how valid is this model as an alternative to a regular release.
You’d have to wonder if it’s transferable to other musical demographics. Can you see a kid who never normally pays for his music parting with £15 of his scarce cash? Bear in mind that vinyl’s collectability factor and maybe the artwork is the reason why people are still buying physical releases, so does a magazine that relates to that band and album really have the ability to draw people in?
There’s also the issue of release dates. The fan-pack magazine relies on being released three weeks early to really get the sales, which is fine and dandy if it’s being released three weeks earlier than every market, but this Rush one is going on sale one day before the rest of the world. Basically, if you’re in the UK and want the album the same time as everyone else you’ve got to get the fan-pack. Is that too much of a strong-arm tactic? Some people might only want to pay £7.99 for their CD and forego the magazine. It probably won’t matter to the die-hards, but the casual fan won’t be too pleased about the price, and by July 9th, unless RoadRunner UK have something up their sleeve, the interest in the band may have gone due to all the marketing being centred around the June release date.
That being said, as a Rush fan I find this a totally awesome idea. It’s being billed as having “the ultimate sleevenotes” which is true. Who wouldn’t want an extensive track-by-track guide of the album by the band themselves to read while you’re listening? Couple that with some articles about the making of the album and you’ve got something that’s incredibly in depth, and can really immerse you in that album. In addition, there’s always some kind of ephemera involved which can interest the kid inside us; I love a good keyring!
I’m not really sure this is a wide scale good thing. But, if you assume that the casual fans are going to go to iTunes or Spotify for their musical fix, this could go a long way to keeping the fans who want physical releases interested and spending money.