So my favorite band, The New Pornographers, is coming out with a new album, Challengers, on August 21st. In advance of the release, the NPs’ record company, Matador, is offering a product called “Buy Early, Get Now.” If you order a copy of the album for delivery on the release day, they’ll give you a password to stream the album from the Matador site now, along with allowing access to some MP3 B-sides and live tracks. They’re also offering a 4-CD box set, which upon delivery will include one pressed copy of Challengers and 3 screen-printed, sexily packaged CD-Rs, on which the buyer will be instructed to burn various B-sides, live tracks from the tour in support of the new album, tour photos, music videos, and other material released on the password-protected album website after the record comes out. (That’s right, they’ve figured out a way to include tracks from the future in the box set.)
Matador knows all these rarities will be available on filesharing networks eventually. But they still have something to sell: convenient downloading and sexy packaging. Even though waiting for the material to be posted, downloading it, and burning it will take some time, it’s “certainly less time than you hunting around for it yourself.” Matador knows what it can and can’t control, and this is one of the best strategies I’ve seen for making fans happy while still making money on the deal.