Portishead packaging

Check out the packaging for the new Portishead release. It feels a lot like an expensive hotel or a spa, and not at all like an MP3.

There's no CD at all. Instead there is a big-ass 1GB USB key. This contains the music file collection formerly known as an "album" or "CD" or "release". The remaining free space contains videos of some kind (but what the videos are isn't said). I love the idea of pre-ripped files, because having to rip my own CD purchases feels like I'm paying for a DIY project, but CD players are still convenient for me sometimes so I want *both* a CD and pre-ripped files.

There is a double vinyl album and, listed separately, an etched 12” vinyl of ‘Machine Gun’. Are these really separate things? Vinyl etching is way cool, anyway. The way it works is that you get the actual wax mold they will pour the vinyl into, then cut a picture out of the wax rather than cutting grooves for a phonograph needle to read. This vinyl etching deal is a way of emphasizing the physicality of what you're getting for your money. The message is that you're not buying *bits." This product is not a crappy way of files onto your iPod, it's a way of getting close to music you love.

Visuals along the lines of album art in the form of a Limited edition print from Nick Uff. Again, this isn't a crappy MP3, it's a whole other thing.

The major economic factor for this release isn't anything in this listing though; it's the ten years it took the band to make the music, and the amazing staying power of their prior music. If they only make a release every ten years, the cost of luxuries like vinyl etching is relatively unimportant.

(Thanks to export5000 for the link).

Category: business, digital music packaging, music 4 comments »

4 Responses to “Portishead packaging”

  1. gurdonark

    I think this is a really smart idea—Portishead is definitely one of those 1,000 true fans kind of acts, whose fans will pay 40 pounds and appreciate the extra songs,films, packaging and features.

    Speaking of 1,000 True Fans, I found fascinating ambient “star” Robert Rich’s reply essay to the 1,000 true fans essay, and share it with you:

    http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/04/the_reality_of.php

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  3. lucasgonze

    That Robert Rich article is great and very informative about the economics.

    His living reminds me of a freelance journalist’s. Constant hustle.

  4. gurdonark

    Yes, “constant hustle” is right–and it’s a lot like freelance journalism. This article was an interesting contrast with the part of David Byrne’s weblog in which he addressed the point that although recording is much cheaper, it’s not yet free.

    I don’t own much Robert Rich, but there is something about his frank matter-of-factness that made me want to go to magnatune and buy an album or two. One of my favorite ambient labels is hypnos.com, which just announced they are re-issuing a Rich album there after a first printing of 2,000 copies sold out. 2,000 is not a bad set for a tiny label, and yet the royalties on 2,000 sold is not richesse. These small-scale hustles to profit from little releases impress me.

    I also follow Mystified, who releases a stunningly prolific CC netlabel catalog, and yet still sells a goodish number of little CD issues.
    His model, mystifiedmusic.com, intrigues me. It’s again like being a stringer, trying to get a by-line anywhere,everywhere.

    These artists both use their own websites as focal points, not entirely in line with but analogous to the points you’ve making lately.

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