It's hard to stand out in the music world. However, as original as you might be, there is probably someone who sounds exactly like you who has done it before. With better technology and a more connected world it is easier for artists nowadays to spread their music but now that everyone can do it the market has become saturated. You may have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t marketing yourself right, no one will ever hear you. Marvel seem to have come up with a solution for the soundtrack to the Guardians of the Galaxy film, the Awesome Mix Vol. 1.
For those of you who haven’t seen the film (don’t worry, I haven’t either), it starts off when the main character Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, gets abducted by aliens as a child in 1988. To remind him of planet Earth, he has a mixtape that he listens to with songs from the 70’s and 80’s. While the mixtape is a part of the story, it also serves as a tool to win fans. Director James Gunn had this to say: "It's striking the balance throughout the whole movie, through something that is very unique, but also something that is easily accessible to people at the same time. The music and the Earth stuff is one of those touchstones that we have to remind us that, yeah, [Quill] is a real person from planet Earth who's just like you and me. Except that he's in this big outer space adventure."
Marvel seem to be playing on the nostalgia theme again by releasing the mixtape, called the Awesome Mix Vol. 1, on cassette tape on November 17th. It is already available on CD and vinyl, but this is unique as the cassette tape looks exactly how it does in the film, with the songs hand written on the case. Releasing the mixtape on a cassette tape is a good strategy as it makes those of us who remember using cassette tapes and rewinding them with a pen feel nostalgic, and it is also a novelty for younger fans who might not have ever seen a cassette tape in real life. It is being released in limited stock conveniently close to Christmas and the release of Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD and Blu-Ray on the 9th of December. After December 31st or when stocks run out they will stop selling the tape, which is guaranteed to make die-hard fans of the film rush to buy it.
Back in the music world, another unique concept for an album is being made by hip hop legends the Wu-Tang Clan. They are working on a top secret album called “The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”. What is so revolutionary about this album is that they only plan to release one copy of the album, with a price tag expected to reach a multi-million dollar figure. This album is going to be cased in an engraved silver and nickel box currently sitting in a vault somewhere near the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. This box was handcrafted by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, who’s previous work have been commissioned by royal families and business leaders around the world. They plan to first take the boxed album on a tour of the world, and allow listeners to hear the album through headphones in museums, galleries and festivals. After this tour, the album will be sold to the highest bidder.
These two examples show us how the packaging and distribution of an album is an art form in itself. While it can be seen as an advertising gimmick, it works. It gets people to talk about it and plays on people’s nostalgia or curiosity. The Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape are using a cassette tape for novelty and nostalgia value, whilst the Wu-Tang Clan made their latest album into a priceless artifact to be displayed in museums.
Making your music heard is just as important as making music in the first place. Your creativity shouldn’t stop once you’ve finished recording your songs, but should carry on into every process of your music’s release. As Wu-Tang member Cilvaringz says “It might totally flop, and we might be completely ridiculed, but the essence and core of our ideas is to inspire creation and originality and debate, and save the album from dying.”