Instant gratification is not usually a selling point that physical music distribution can hold over digital distribution. However, with the announcement of their “Vinyl Gratification” program, indie rock mainstays Spoon are planning to shake things up.
The program (whose guidelines are explained in full here), beginning July 15, allows fans to visit any one of the chosen 150 brick-and-mortar indie record stores and pre-order the band’s forthcoming album, They Want My Soul (due out August 5). Upon pre-ordering, the buyer will instantly receive a ten-inch record containing three songs from the forthcoming album, two of which won’t be available anywhere else, until the album drops. (The third song, “Do You,” is already available for streaming here and as a download for anyone who pre-orders the album on iTunes, Amazon or the band’s online store.)
Once the album is released, buyers will return to the record store from which they pre-ordered the album, present their receipt and receive an exclusive 180-gram white vinyl edition of the album, housed in a special, extra-sturdy sleeve.
According to Spoon frontman Britt Daniel’s statement (available in full here), “Why do we incentivize people to buy our music from big outlets but we don’t extend the same courtesy to actual record stores?” While the results of the program both in terms of sales and press for the band remain to be seen, for now the nature of Vinyl Gratification feels earnest. Daniel continues, “If like me, you’ve ever rushed home with a brand new record that you couldn’t wait to play—and couldn’t actually play until you slapped it onto your turntable—I hope the Vinyl Gratification program will bring back some magic for you. And I hope you’ll join us in supporting the independent record shops that have supported us for so long.”
Moreover, what truly remains to be seen is how this program, a partnership with the Record Store Day organization, will affect the industry at large, if at all. Record Store Day 2014 was the organization’s most successful yet, with sales reported to be up 30% from the previous year (certainly, there are scores of statistics documenting vinyl’s resurgence in recent years). While Record Store Day (and the organizations, events and programs like it) have seen success, they’ve largely positioned themselves and their efforts in self-conscious contrast to the methods of digital distribution. Vinyl Gratification, however, will impinge on digital’s turf (pre-ordering, instant gratification), taking digital’s methods and benefits and tying them instead to a physical product.
While we all wait for our instant gratification, Spoon will be touring through September.