Wu Tang Clan are releasing a portable speaker that is the only way to play tracks from their forthcoming album A Better Tomorrow.
Thanks to the mp3, the physicality of records, cassettes and CDs is being replaced by the intangible and distant specter of the cloud and Spotify. However, a few artists are being creative about their releases in order to put music back into the hands of fans. We've already seen DATAROCK embed music into a designer toy with a USB output. Now Wu Tang Clan are releasing a portable boombox that is the only way to play tracks from their forthcoming album A Better Tomorrow.
Teaming up with Boombotix, the rap collective is exclusively embedding a handful of tracks from the album into a special edition of the company's Boombot REX. The device is controlled by owners' smartphones, so they'll be able to play their own collections through it, with the addition of the Wu Tang tracks. A Better Tomorrow is set to be released as an LP, CD and download on 28 November, but eager fans can get a preview by purchasing one of 3000 limited edition portable speakers from the Boombotix site. They'll also get to listen to instrumentals and 'Big Horn B.', a track that won't be released anywhere else.
According to an interview with Billboard, Wu Tang member RZA said: “To me, there’s something transcendent about being able to physically hold music … With this project, I hope to strengthen the bond between fan and artist." It's the not the first time the group has explored alternative releases, with its experimental Once Upon A Time In Shaolin album pressed only once and available for listening at special events in art galleries and museums.
The Wu-edition Boombot Rex is priced at USD 79.99 and is available to pre-order from Zumiez.com from today. Are there other ways to creatively release music to regain a physical connection between fans and artists?