Thursday, April 23, 2009

Billy Corgan Gets On The 21st Century Distribution Bandwagon

If I were cynical, I would say that the news that Billy Corgan is a.) planning on releasing a new Smashing Pumpkins album with 40+ tracks and b.) planning on creating a subscription-based service for fans to get exclusive updates are ploys to milk the audience for anything he can get as the Pumpkins' popularity continues to wane. However, I'm excited about the concept, because it looks like Billy gets that the Internet changes the game for distribution the same way that Radiohead, Trent Reznor, and Metallica all seem to: he's creating services that appeal to his core fan base. Am I going to pay $40 for 25 minutes a week of a glorified "making of" documentary, particularly just so I can get it before the whole thing comes out after the release? No, but I'm willing to bet that those who rank the Smashing Pumpkins first among all bands would pay for that kind of access, particularly since many of those people are old enough that they probably have some income to spare.

The release strategy is an interesting idea, too: Corgan thinks he'll do it in dribs and drabs over a two year period, instead of one, unmanageable heaping helping of material. Like the subscription, it seems like a much better way to keep the fans satiated and engaged. Why not just drop the word "album" from the process entirely, though? Such a loose collection of songs does not need that applied term of centralization. Now someone just needs to tell Bob Lefsetz.

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