One of the things we discuss a lot around here are “triggers”; Psychological buttons that motivate people to get off the fence and take action. There are many different triggers one can employ in their marketing but without a doubt the most powerful trigger there is, is scarcity. When we can’t have something we want it even more. It’s the human condition.
Well, (Insert maniacal laugh here)…. Wu-Tang Clan has taken the concept of scarcity to a new level by announcing that they will be releasing just a SINGLE COPY of an upcoming “secret album”.
As the band told Forbes “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
The album will be presented in a “hand-carved nickel-silver box designed by the British Moroccan artist Yahya,” and will then travel to galleries and museums where it’s estimated fans will pay between $30 – $50 to listen with headphones (to help prevent piracy). The album will then be sold to a single buyer for what is expected to be several million dollars.
In her recent Ted Talk, singer Amanda Palmer said, “I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question; ‘how do we MAKE people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘how do we let people pay for music’? This move by Wu-Tang Clan (and the buzz that it has generated) really supports that sentiment, at least to my mind.
By simply positioning their music as art, rather than just another disposable download, they have changed perspective, gotten the world’s attention, and most importantly, those who do eventually get to consume the album will experience and appreciate it in a way unlike any other music has been appreciated in history.
***UPDATE: In 2015 the album was bought in Auction for $2,000.000 by Martin Shkreli. Martin Shkreli is the former pharmaceuticals entrepreneur who is awaiting a criminal sentence following a fraud conviction. As a result of the charges he has been forced to hand over the Wu-Tang Clan album. According to court documents, once Shkreli forfeits the album it becomes the property of the US federal government. Usually, only items deemed stolen are returned to their original owners, so it’s unlikely the album will end up back in Wu-Tang hands. It will likely be put up for public auction.
So what do you think? Is this just another marketing gimmick or a brilliant move by the Wu-Tang Clan?