New U2 album to come in 5 formats
TORONTO – For U2’s first release in five years, Bono and Co. are going all out – and expecting fans to do the same.
Sure, consumers can pick up the plain CD release of “No Line on the Horizon” when it comes out Tuesday, or they can splurge on one of the other four packages. There’s the limited box set that includes a DVD and hardcover book, the “digipack” edition with a fold-out poster and rights to download a U2 film, the 60-page magazine version and the limited-issue vinyl double LP.
Yep, even the biggest band in the world is taking steps to rouse record buyers out of their collective malaise.
Loading a CD release with fan-friendly bonuses is a strategy that many bands are adopting as a way to entice consumers who otherwise might be just as happy downloading new music.
When Bruce Springsteen released “Working on a Dream” in January, it came with a bonus DVD featuring 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” was available in a pricey limited deluxe edition that included both CD and vinyl, plus a second disc of new songs and a lyric book.
With the record-buying public seemingly shrinking with each passing year, it’s becoming a necessary strategy even for the titans of the industry.
“I definitely think it does (help sales) because it adds a better sense of value to what people are buying,” said Terry McBride, CEO of Vancouver-based Nettwerk Music Group. “I think it brings in the added value proposition of things that can’t be digitized.”
Of course, those bonus-loaded packages don’t come cheap – the super-deluxe version of U2’s new album runs a hefty $83.99 on Amazon.ca. That, McBride says, makes it even more important that the content is worthwhile and coming directly from the band.
“Knowing (U2), they had a lot to say about all of it, and they had their hands all over it,” he said of their new release. “That makes it a lot more authentic, because they actually care.
“In the case of U2, it’s not a marketing thing. They’re really sincere people about what they release and what their fans like.”
Toronto indie rockers Metric are releasing their fourth studio album, “Fantasies,” in similarly bonus-packed fashion.
Beginning Tuesday, fans can pre-order the new album – which doesn’t see physical release until April 14 – from Metric’s website in three formats. The album will be available on limited edition vinyl, as a deluxe hard-cover CD or as a straight-up download in one of several “content bundles” that will include other extras.
Though Metric is releasing the album on Last Gang Records in Canada, they’re essentially putting the record out themselves in the U.S. With that added responsibility, they took it upon themselves to include bonus content with the release.
“For us, it’s just a way to stay creative and to think outside of what is normally allowed, which is based on a retail construct,” said singer Emily Haines in a recent telephone interview from New York. “We’re all discovering that … preconceptions of how the world has to be are appearing to be not set in stone at all.
“So we’re just having a good time and trying to stay inspired and make art.”
Metric has documented their tours with photographs and videos taken by the band, some of which will be included with the record.
Haines says that beyond extra features, she thinks more care needs to go into the physical albums as well.
“I just think nobody is going to be impressed by something that looks cheap or throwaway,” she said. “Particularly material goods and manufacturing, we all know the cost in environmental terms. If it’s something I’m going to go buy, I want it to be valuable.
“Nobody wants a pile of plastic cases.”
Not all musicians are onboard with this new strategy. Some are suspicious of what looks like a new method to rake in cash for record labels.
“Everything is about added bonus, added bonus, added bonus,” said TV on the Radio singer/guitarist Kyp Malone. “But I feel like I’m not personally trying to sell records to anyone but the people who buy records already, you know? I know that’s a shrinking market, and I recognize that, and I’m fine with it.
“I don’t think I can trick anybody.”
Haines understands Malone’s point, but says the process feels less ominous when it comes directly from the band.
“(If) it’s presented to you as a crass marketing tool by somebody whose taste you don’t respect, you find yourself resisting ideas that are potentially just kind of cool,” she said. “We enjoy making (these extras), and ideally, people are interested in seeing them. It’s just a few minutes of entertainment or insight.
“But it takes a lot of the sinister side of things out of it when I don’t feel like somebody’s trying to sell every moment of my life.”
New U2 album to come in 5 formats