If Napster taught us anything, it’s that distributing music legally and non-electronically is hard work. It’s no wonder some musicians resort to gimmicks to get their songs out there. But every now and then those gimmicks are so hilariously misguided that you wonder if the artist’s real goal is to drift back into obscurity.
#4. Buckethead Manufactures Thousands of Albums by Hand
Anyone familiar with Buckethead already knows he’s a little odd. For starters, the guitarist plays all his shows while wearing a KFC bucket and creepy white mask, and he refuses to speak in public unless it’s through a puppet named Herbie.
Remember, kids: It’s not schizophrenia if you’re an artist.
In 2007, Buckethead released a 13-album set titled In Search of The. Most musicians would rest at the whole “recorded 13 fucking albums” thing, but Buckethead insisted on making the feat even crazier by personally assembling every copy of the set. He actually hand-burned each album onto its own CD-R and drew the cover art himself for each disc, one by one, for every copy of the set. He did this 999 times, for a total of 12,987 manually burned CDs and 12,987 “unique” drawings.
#3. The Flaming Lips’ Album Zaireeka Requires Four CD Players
Surprise! The same guys who recently released music inside an anatomically correct chocolate human heart once created an album that required four different CD players to listen to. In 1997, the Flaming Lips had the shockingly normal idea to release an album with eight songs. Easy enough, right? Wrong. Each song was separated into four tracks on four different discs that had to be played simultaneously to get the whole experience. So maybe vocals were on one CD, farm animals and honking horns were on another, and bass, guitar, and drums filled out the other two.
Even in the ’90s, assembling four CD players in one room would have been a Herculean task. Most households only had one or two, with maybe a portable CD player for headphones if they were fancy. So fans were forced to organize “Zaireeka parties” to recruit the manpower necessary to listen the album.
“We stuck King Crimson and Air on the other two speakers, just to make shit interesting.”
Speaking of having to work for your music ….
#2. Beck Releases an Album That You Have to Perform Yourself
Some people pride themselves on listening to music through long-forgotten formats, be it vinyl, cassettes, or — God forbid — eight tracks. Not too long ago, Beck one-upped them all and released his album Song Reader in the most old-school format possible — sheet music.
Beck / Marcel Dzama
It simultaneously caters to the snobbiest music hipster and slaps him in the face. You’ll have a hard time finding music in a more “vintage” format, but as a result, if you want to hear it, you’ll have to play it yourself.
Or, of course, you could hop onto YouTube and watch other people turn the songs into everything from ragtime piano pieces to alt-rock dirges. If only we too could find a way to get the Internet to enthusiastically do our work for us …
Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images
Great minds think alike. That is, lazily.
#1. Jack White Debuts a Song Via Helium Balloon
When Jack White talks, people listen. And when Jack White said he was finally releasing a solo album, people were willing to do anything to hear it first. So, naturally, Jack White decided to unveil one of the album’s hugely anticipated singles by tying it to a balloon and letting it loose over the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
Third Man Records
A thousand copies of his song “Freedom at 21” were pressed on a special flexi-disc vinyl, in hopes that they could better survive the airborne journey. Still, Jack White estimates that only 10 percent were recovered from where they crash-landed, picked up by either devoted explorers or thoroughly confused bystanders.
Third Man Records
It had better be one damn good song.
Ridley Davis is currently a student at Michigan State University. So, uh … go green.