Commentary
9:22 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Musical Space: The Value of Wu-Tang Clan’s New Album

    

Rap super-group Wu-Tang Clan have come up with a bold new marketing plan for their latest album, and it’s a doozey.

The release, which they have been working on for the last six years, will be called The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Only one copy will be sold, and it will come in a hand-carved nickel-silver box. The exact price hasn’t been set, but it will be in the millions of dollars. The unique buyer of the album will take possession of it after a touring exhibit takes it to a number of art museums around the world. None of the 31 tracks will be released to the public.

The wisdom of Wu-Tang Clan’s strategy echoes their Kung-Fu style, using the forces of supply and demand to elevate their music to the market status of priceless art. As lead rapper RZA says, “This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”

And it’s not just about making money; it is also a statement about the value of music in an age of streaming and file-sharing. According to the official website they “hope to inspire and intensify urgent debates about the future of music. ... to provoke questions about the value and perception of music as a work of art in today’s world.”

I’m looking forward to hearing those questions once someone buys a rap album for the price of a Picasso.