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Selling Music Through Packaging

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When was the last time you bought a CD, vinyl LP or cassette tape? Chances are, with the iTunes store being the go-to music retailer these days, not recently.

In what we think is a fantastic idea by record label Ghostly, music can still be digital, but that doesn’t remove consumers’ want for a physical product. To illustrate this, the label will be releasing Matthew Dear’s upcoming Black City album as a ‘Totem’.

These limited edition ‘Totems’ (just 100 of them are available) are really just industrial-looking black aluminum bars that can function as display items for your shelf, but they’re more than just ‘objects’.

Each one is inscribed with a unique four-character suffix that will allow users to access a private page to stream or download Dear’s album.

This ‘Totem’ is an experiment in music dissemination, a topic many record labels are struggling with in the face of piracy and digital downloads. It is an “entreaty to listeners everywhere to reconsider our relationship to music in the digital era”, wrote the record label.


MP3s and digital formats might be convenient and accessible, but sometimes having a physical product—if well-designed, of course—to accompany the music is key. Imagine having a whole series of these ‘Totems’ on your shelf instead of the boring jewel cases. A much more interesting proposal.

And the Ghostly label has been putting out a whole host of design-music mashups that reassess just what a record label can do.

Just a few weeks ago, they released a bento-box inspired compilation album and the label is known for collaborating with acclaimed product designers. This first ‘Totem’ was designed by New York’s Boym Partners.

Granted, great design won’t save the beleaguered industry overnight, but it might just push some casual fans into picking the ‘Totem’ over album art on the iTunes screen.

Watch a video of the 'Totem''s production here:

If you have other interesting design and art finds, cool websites, or anything that might catch our eye, share it with us at news -at- hillscreativearts -dot- com!
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