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.

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Comments on “Swedish Band Releases New Album As A Magazine”

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A Dan (profile) says:

Tax avoidance?

1. Is it possible that this could be considered an illegal dodge of the 25% VAT by claiming it’s a magazine when it’s intended as album distribution?

2. This seems like it could be a cool idea to start up a true magazine-based “label”, with a different band/album each month. Then you could actually have subscriptions, especially if you limited the magazine(s) to a single genre. How well it would work would, of course, depend on execution.


and its not a comic book ffs

its a music cd in a sleeve at the back of blah blah blah
and YOUR PAYING extra for that ramble ….
stick to making music as if this were the norm hollywood would make us all pay 29.95 JUST for the album er magazine sleeve then another 29.95 for the plastic
then you have there cuts

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: and its not a comic book ffs

You’ve missed the point. No one is forcing you to buy the magazine if all you want is the music. You could access the music for free over sharing networks. That’s what the manager meant when he said, “music is something that’s for free.” If you don’t do sharing networks, maybe you could buy just the music CD online, or the songs through iTunes or similar.

But this is a way of offering a Reason to Buy something. Many customers will choose to do so. Some other people will get the music for free from their friends, and perhaps subsequently take an interest in the band and buy the magazine.

The music acts as promotion for the physical product.

Trish says:


i like this idea, it could work for any level of musician. i donèt buy magazines, but a lot of women i know do, to get stories about celebs,make-up, fashion, travel, etc. why not a mag with a bunch of stuff about a band? behind-the-scenes, making of’s, lyrics, personal stories, and they could even sell ad space (bigger bands, anyways). sounds like a great added value for customers. customers who purchase the mag could get access to online chat for fans, chat with the band members, first dibs on good seats at concerts, so many great ways to make money without pissing anyone off. i love it.

Nick Mc says:

Not a really new idea

Music with magazines has been quite common in the UK for ages. I remember buying magazines with a 12″ vinyl album included back in the 80’s called Debut. It was great stuff. Many BBC magazines and other magazines such as Mojo will include a CD now. The difference is these were/are compilations not a release by one band. I think it’s a cool idea and would likely buy a copy if it were in the local Chapters bookstore (not really likely though is it).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Buggy whips are still valuable products in niche markets.

Magazines are just as marketable, provided that you’re selling to people who want magazines.

The problems with buggy whips is when you start lobbying the government for buggy whip protections, and when you start suing everyone who makes your precious buggy whips obsolete.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Magazines are old media, but creating a magazine is a way to help a band?

I’m a fan of magazines, so I like to look at them, though I don’t buy many anymore.

And I’ve subscribed to Paste in the past to get the free CD every month.

But after reading so many articles about how both CDs and print magazines are in the decline, I find it ironic to read that packaging them together is a good marketing idea.

I guess everything comes full circle. Just goes to show that maybe the people who used to do this had the right idea after all.

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