Creative: 8 Most Innovative Album Releases

Name the most creative way for a record to drop.

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These days, it's all about being innovative. With so much music out there, adding an extra dose of creativity in the marketing department can be crucial in scoring additional attention from music fans. So without further ado, let's check out some of the most innovative record releases thus far.

No. 8 - GN'R's Midnight Train (1991)

"Use Your Illusion" was released on September 17, 1991, but here's the trick - it dropped at the day's very beginning, at midnight. This left fans lining up for hours on September 16, as over 1,000 stores kept working way past overtime for the sake of this effort alone. By the morning of September 17, over 500,000 copies were sold.

No. 7 - NIN's Alternate Reality Game (2007)

The promotion of "Year Zero" involved an intricate alternate reality game that began in a venue toilet in Lisbon, Portugal. The whole thing really caught fans' attention, read about it here.

No. 6 - Radiohead's Pay What You Want (2007)

Free from their label contract, Radiohead celebrated the release of "In Rainbows" by offering a revolutionary (at the time) option to fans - pay what you want. The trick worked like a charm, as the band members noted that it was their most profitable record ever.

No. 5 - Jack White and No Announcement (2008)

In order to reduce leaks and illegal downloads, Jack White announced the second album of his side project The Raconteurs, "Consolers of the Lonely," only a week before the release. His scheme was uncovered by the press though, making the plan only half-successful.

No. 4 - Beck's Sheet Music (2012)

Beck was always an odd fellow, and his 2012 effort "Sheet Music" just screams eccentricity. It's quite simple really - instead of bothering with recording, Mr. Hansen released a book of actual sheet music.

No. 3 - Death Grips Stick It to the Man (2012)

Death Grips and Epic Records always sounded like a weir pair. So in short, the group planned to release both "The Money Store" and "No Love Deep Web" in 2012, but the label insisted that 2013 release for the latter title is the only way to go. The response - DG made the album available for free download with a super-mega-ultra explicit cover. They were fired from Epic within a month.

No. 2 - Bono (2014)

The most recent one - U2's surprise album launch during the latest Apple event. "Songs of Innocence" was made available to all iTunes users for free. However, the record sales seem to be low, very low. Read about it here.

No. 1 - Wu-Tang Clan and the Super-Exclusive (2014)

You probably read about this one as well - Wu-Tang Clan decided to create a single copy of their new album "The Wu - Once Upon a Time in the Shaolin" and set it off on a museum tour to allow fans individual listenings. Finally, the single copy will be sold to the highest bidder.

So try to answer this one as honestly as possible - were you hooked by any creative release and was ever an innovative release the factor that got you to buy the album? Also, if you got more to share, do it in the comments please.

33 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Floyd Phoenix
    I know it's not exactly regular listening on this site but you've got to give Beyonce props for managing to pull off what Jack White failed and releasing an album with absolutely no announcements about it or even that it was being made...
    with a video for every song, i can only imagine how pumped her fans were.
    agreed, not crazy about beyonce at all, but zero announcements at all with so many feature artists and a video for every track, and then the album nearly brought down the entire itunes store? that's one of the most impressive album drops in recent memory.
    What about Led Zeppelin's "In Through The Out Door"? Not that they needed any help selling records at the time, but they released that album in a brown paper bag cover. Nobody knew what was really on the cover until you bought it and opened. That's the one that always sticks out to me.
    Well, Led Zepp IV, or ZoSo, or Sticks, or Untitled, or whatever you want to call it basically did the same thing. No title, not even the name of the band (except on the actual vinyl).
    Sleeping in
    The Recounters? The RECOUNTERS? Guys, can you please just hire me as a spellchecker/proofreader?
    "Use Your Illusion" was released on September 17, 1991, but here's the trick - it dropped at the day's very beginning, at midnight. This left fans lining up for hours on September 16, as over 1,000 stores kept working way past overtime for the sake of this effort alone. By the morning of September 17, over 500,000 copies were sold. What they didn't mention was by September 18, over 250,000 copies were returned.
    Public Image Ltd (PiL to you and me) brought out their Metal Box album in 1979 in, well, a metal box. The LP was in a can shaped like a reel of film. Class.
    I really liked Marilyn Manson for mechanical animals. When the internet was still new and exciting for most. There were made tons of tons of websites for the album. They just cropped up. Not like commercials, but like.. sites hosting only a single, cryptic video, and all kinds of weird stuff.
    Muse have had some awesome release tricks over the years, but more for singles than albums.
    GN'R wasn't the only band to do that. There were others before 1991 (it was actually a semi-regular thing back when record stores were still relevant). Metallica did it the same year with "TBA", too. I honestly don't remember who was first, Guns or Metallica. A buddy of mine stood in line for the midnight release of UYI. He had a copy of each dubbed for me the next morning (we were in 8th grade).
    last year, thirty seconds to mars premiere their single in space and then announce the album? ...or something like that. the songs weren't that good though.
    No one except U2 and Apple thought that album release was a good idea. It doesn't matter if you like the music or not, how Beyonce released her latest album worked very well.
    i love how instead of bashing online piracy and illegal downloads, these guys just give fans something specail with album
    Metal Militia
    How about Lamb of God's Sacrament and Wrath? Both albums were released with all the guitar, bass, drums, and vocal tracks separated. Made it really easy to learn the songs or jam along to them. I don't know of any other band that has done that.
    BTBAM released the instrumental tracks for some tracks on Alaska. Though you had to buy it seperately and it was just the vocals missing. Good to know that someone did it right, though.
    Flaming Lips releasing one of their albums in four cds that were meant to be played simultaneously