Alternative Ways to Release Your Latest Album: A Comprehensive Guide

by Adrian Mark Lore

If the twentieth century saw the democratization of music as an art form and its expansion as a massive consumer product through the advent of pop music and of replay media such as the analog cassette and the digital CD, then the twenty-first century has witnessed the subversion of many of the expectations set by major record labels about how music should be produced, released and consumed. In particular, the internet has widely broadened the realm of possibilities for the new norm of creative distribution that has become functionally an art form in itself. From Zaireeka, released in 1997 by the Flaming Lips on four CDs that were intended to be played simultaneously to produce the intended sound, to The Life of Pablo, the latest record by Kanye West, which was released on streaming services in 2016 but saw its track list and order edited several times, there is an extensive tradition of creative distribution that may appear overwhelming to amateur artists attempting to enter the scene with style and grace. With that in mind, here is a comprehensive list of alternate ways to release your latest album.

Media: What to Release

  1. Analog media, such as vinyl or cassette
  2. Digital media, such as a CD
  3. Wireless media, through a streaming service such as Spotify or Tidal
  4. Telepathic media, only to psychologically verified “true” fans
  5. Organic media, such as tree bark, that will eventually degrade and once again become part of Mother Nature, to be appreciated as a poignant reminder of the inescapable impermanence of all things
  6. Pornographic media, as the musical score to your serendipitously leaked sex tape
  7. Cryptic media, such as a booklet of sheet music written entirely in Braille
  8. Edible media, with a side of fries and a drink
  9. Ancient media, on a long-lost fragment of the Mayan calendar
  10. Cinematic media, via product placement in an overproduced biopic about an obscure starving artist who you inexplicably identify with
  11. Suicidal media, as a cry for help
  12. Pathogenic media, such as a life-threatening illness contracted after sharing needles because you’re just that rock-‘n’-roll
  13. Maritime media, in a treasure chest at the bottom of the ocean reached at the end of an international naval scavenger hunt
  14. Apocalyptic media, such as a signal that will trigger the launch of several nuclear warheads
  15. Corporate media, such as any

Attitude: How to Release It

  1. In promotion of an upcoming tour
  2. Suddenly, with little explanation
  3. With a visual accompaniment such as an art book or a series of thematically linked music videos
  4. Through hidden frequencies used exclusively for the internal communications of the KGB
  5. Automatically downloaded into the Bluetooth earpieces of cocky Wall Street professionals with stay-at-home wives
  6. As you trick-or-treat while wearing an age-inappropriate “sexy nurse” costume, exchanging the record for assorted candy or assorted sexual favors
  7. In Japanese, with a French accent
  8. Standing on one foot, trying to rub your belly as you tap your head
  9. As an exclusive release on the rotation of music at your local gym, with the subtle accompaniment of desperate single men with underworked thighs doing six reps of twelve chin-ups
  10. As an exclusive release on the rotation of music at your local gym, with the subtle accompaniment of middle-aged women doing strenuous aerobics exercises
  11. In a Mason jar
  12. With the support of your loving parents
  13. With the support of your parents, who were divorced when you were young and to whom you quite frankly owe the angst that permeates the entirety of your musical output
  14. Fiercely
  15. Not with that attitude

Timing: When to Release It

  1. On any arbitrarily selected date
  2. On Record Store Day
  3. On your birthday
  4. On the actual day you were born
  5. On a historically meaningful date
  6. On a historically meaningful day, such as Bastille Day, 1789
  7. In billions of years, as the Sun finally swallows our planet
  8. When a woman becomes President of the United States of America
  9. After sex
  10. Upon mankind’s inevitable self-destruction
  11. Ahead of schedule
  12. Late
  13. Never
  14. Always
  15. Sometimes

Location: Where to Release It

  1. At Target, on a CD with special bonus tracks
  2. On the iTunes Store, with inferior audio quality
  3. At Costco, with free samples that haven’t technically been cleared yet
  4. In hell, on vinyl with a limited-edition gatefold sleeve
  5. At your funeral, as a mourning / listening party
  6. In your basement, where you made it
  7. At Starbucks, with skim milk because you can’t actually afford to pay the extra cost of coconut milk even though you’re slightly lactose-intolerant
  8. In a strip mall parking lot, purposefully obscuring a “No Solicitation” sign
  9. Twenty thousand leagues under the sea
  10. At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, because the album is about the peace we need so badly in this hurtin’ world, bro, so lay down your arms, light one up and relax, gentlemen, yeah? No? Anyone?
  11. In a box, with a fox
  12. In a house, with a mouse
  13. On a boat, with a goat
  14. On a train, in the rain
  15. In your dreams

Reason: Why Release It

  1. Music is how your soul cries out to the world
  2. To appease your crippling inferiority complex
  3. Production may or may not have been tax deductible
  4. Allowed, if not encouraged, to autograph other peoples’ babies
  5. Get panned by Pitchfork staff who will call it “uninspired”
  6. It is an integral part of your complex plan for world domination
  7. Kyle from homeroom will have to take back calling you “a gay” for liking The Beach Boys in the eighth grade
  8. The amenities
  9. Because how else are you supposed to pay your bills as a coffee-shop barista with a dual degree in Art History and Russian Literature?
  10. To impress that girl
  11. To impress that guy
  12. To impress that genderless individual
  13. To impress your pets, without whom this record could never have been made – thank you, Spot, and may you rest in peace
  14. Because you can
  15. F— b——, get money
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