We have reported on how Nipsey Hussle sells a limited amount of physical copies of his mixtapes for a very high price. The strategy is called artificial scarcity and it has worked well for him so far. But Nipsey has only limited his releases to quantities of 100 or 1,000. The Wu-Tang is upping the ante. They are auctioning off only one copy of their latest release, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
RZA is the mastermind behind this move for the Wu. He feels that music is not really valued anymore. He thinks it should be treated like a piece of art. Just because something can be duplicated doesn’t mean it should be. There is only one original of each painting. Everything else is a print/copy. RZA applied this method to the Wu’s latest album, except there is no copy being made. As we’ve seen from Nipsey, when a limited amount of physical albums are released, it draws major attention. It also draws in major money. Check out this video for more info:
In the music business, it’s no secret that albums don’t sell like they used to. Last year, Billboard compared the top 10 selling albums from the first eight months of 2014 and 1994. It’s not hard to imagine the results. But check out this infographic anyway – it really paints the picture.
What Nipsey Hussle and Wu-Tang are doing is very inventive. They are flipping the script. Most record labels want to sell as many albums as the public will buy. But the consumer behavior around music purchasing has changed. Streaming may one day make up the difference in declining album sales, but its not quite there yet. Since many music fans would rather listen to music for free on YouTube than buy a CD or digital album, Nip and the Wu changed the purchasing options. They saw that albums rarely even go gold these days. So they said to themselves, “Fine. I’ll only sell 1,000 copies. Or 100. Or, better yet, only one.”
Artists have to adapt to the customer’s slowing demand somehow. Do you think Wu-Tang made the right move? Or will the fans suffer?