Picasso, Renoir and Wu-Tang Clan

The Wu-Tang Clan has stated the value of music has been reduced to zero. Backing up their claim, the group has decided to produce an album that will go out on tour to museums and other venues and will only be accessible by headphones. There is obvious frustration over the attitude that many music fans have that the product a band works very hard to produce, market and tour with is worth nothing at the cash register. I am not a hip hop fan but I am totally fascinated by this move and I applaud the group for coming up with an orignal way to address the problem. It is a publicity move to draw attention to the messed up economics that exist with album sales and also a way to remind people of the very personal experience of listening to a piece of music that is in danger of becoming a part of our cultural past. No doubt leaked tracks will make their way onto the internet, someone will gradually record all of the tracks they can from the headsets provided and bootlegs will crop up. But this will only prove the bands point about the hopeless situation musicians are in trying to sell their work and make a living from their efforts. If the album makes it to a venue in my area I will definitely try to check it out but I expect the line will be pretty long and it is a double album so the wait time could be brutal. But if I can, I will wait it out and appreciate every note I get a chance to hear. It will be a plesant reminder about how it use to take some physical and fiscal effort to appreciate music before it was available via mouse click or by application. I hope this experiment is a success in that the attention is drawn to the larger problem of what is the value of music. It also asks the question,  what will it take to get people to invest in something they love but don’t value? Hopefully this is just the beginning of the discussion and it won’t take too many other grand gestures from respected groups desperate to jolt people out of their apathy to put the value back in the product. But if not, I look forward to the next innovation in the re-elevation of the album as artform (and commercial viability would be nice too).   

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