Swedish Band Releases New Album As A Magazine
from the new-distribution-channels dept
The Ark was among the last Swedish bands in the late 20th century to sign an old school major label contract. On April 26, they are releasing their first album after that contract expired. Instead of making it as a plastic disc in a plastic case, they’ve decided to do it in the form of a magazine (99 Swedish kronor, around 13 USD), with cardboard sleeve holding both the paper and the CD.
Here in Sweden, as record stores are closing, shops selling magazines are opening at about the same pace. Therefore, it’s an interesting strategy for The Ark’s upcoming release to be done as a magazine. In terms of physical distribution, it means that their music is available in 1,100 stores instead of just the 110 record stores that are left in Sweden. Also they’ll be able to sell the product with 6% VAT instead of the usual 25% VAT, since magazines and books have that lower VAT in Sweden. That equals 19 Swedish kronors per sold copy in “discount” or markup.
To further understand the band’s reasoning, I called The Ark’s manager Jon Gray up:
Why did you release a magazine?
For many in the younger generation, music is something that’s for free. The idea is to work with another form of packaging, to raise other values around the music. The genius is not the idea, but implementation. That we took this from start to finish.
We have not only created a product but also an extended network of resellers to sell it for us. For us it was about creating a new dealer network in addition to the traditional music trade. The 1,100 stores that sell this product are located everywhere including where people live.
What is the product you created?
When we released the Jesus Christ Superstar album (the singer Ola Salo had the title role in the Swedish production last year and did his own translation), we worked with Johannes Sjöberg at So Music, who previously have done some fantastically special editions release of, for example, Astrid Lindgren’s life. When we planned the release of the new album, we asked Johannes if he could come up with an idea.
The result was a 100-page magazine with high-quality images, text and design. Sandberg & Timonen made the design and well known Swedish writers such as Andres Lokko, Jan Gradvall and Hanna Fahl have contributed with the text. Also, for Ola Salo as a lyricist, this format is a dream. Rather than get 4 separate texts stuffed together on a 12×12 cm cd booklet page, here each text has its own full page. It’s almost a return to the LP format.
Do you think that others will copy your concept?
Yes. Generally speaking, all other revenues for recorded music negligible. Recorded music is free, there is no other business model that has taken after where the CD left us. Whether it’s digital downloads or Spotify. There is no money yet. If we become the best selling album in 2010 and the best-selling monthly magazine ever, as I believe we well, it’s obvious to me that others will follow our example.
This text was originally posted in Swedish the media cluster organization Media Evolution’s site.