Wu-Tang Clan new album challenges structure of music industry

By Matthew Warburton

When an artist releases a new album, they usually promote the forthcoming product, hoping for the type of boom that takes them to a high spot in the charts. This is not the case for Wu-Tang Clan, whose new album, titled The Wu- Once Upon a Time In Shaolin, challenges the structure of the music industry by becoming the first high-profile album in history that will not be commercially released.

The Wu-Once Upon a Time In Shaolin is a 31-song double-album which involves all members of Wu-Tang Clan, as well as involvement from special guests Bonny Jo Mason, Redman, and some FC Barcelona football players, among others. It is unsure yet whether they will all be spitting beats with the Clan.

The album will not be released to the general public and will instead be sold exclusively to just one person – one lone buyer. However, before the private sale, the album will make a tour of museums, galleries, festivals, and other exhibition spaces and fans will have the opportunity to enjoy a one-off listening experience at one of the venues before the album disappears into private hands.

Fans of the old-school should enjoy The Wu-Once Upon a Time In Shaolin, which they say will capture the essence of their original 90′s style by returning to their dark funk sound.

The album will not be available on digital streaming and will not be mass-produced in any way. Checking out the album in a gallery might actually be the only way for anyone who does not have a few million with which to bid to catch a listen. The Clan has not given an estimated price, but the album is expected to fetch millions when it finally is sold to a private buyer.

The motive for the unusual approach is stated explicitly on the album’s website, where Wu-Tang Clan outline their disgruntled view of the music industry and make a comparison with other contemporary art industries. They hope to raise questions and encourage discussion about the “value and perception of music as a work of art in today’s world,” and believe this perception may have been damaged by “mass production” and “content saturation.”

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