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September 21, 2023

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New Wu-Tang album smart business move, not unexpected

In the music industry, it’s difficult for an act to stay relevant. Sometimes, artists simply fade into obscurity. Sometimes they’re able to fight their way back to popularity.

However, sometimes an artist will try to make a grand entrance back into their audience’s consciousness.

Enter the Wu-Tang.

Wu-Tang Clan, seminal rap group who paved the way for other artists within the genre to turn their music into a viable brand, have announced they will only press one copy of their latest album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.” In the meantime, it will be toured around the country, and those who want to listen to it will have to pay $50 and then be subject to an extensive search to make sure they have no recording devices on them. At the end of the tour they’ll sell the album to one very lucky, very wealthy fan.

While some have dismissed this as a ridiculous publicity stunt, I don’t really think they’re qualified to weigh in. Let’s start with how Wu-Tang are meant to be perceived.

This is a group that has always been about excess. Their image is predicated on them collectively being a business, and they’ve been historically great at selling that by doing weird, ridiculous things. I mean, they’re a rap group who wrote a book that simply laid out their business model.

So if you’ve followed them through their career, the fact they’re doing this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Selling the only pressing of an album you recorded for an extremely high price is totally Wu-Tang.

Second, it’s simply a good business move. Wu-Tang Clan plans to release another album later this year, the sales of which will likely be helped by this publicity stunt. Selling the only pressing of an album allows them to make a huge profit on it, and helps to ensure a large profit for the later album. As mentioned for the hundredth time this article, you have to remember that Wu-Tang considers themselves to be a business as much as a group of artists. They’ll do whatever they can to stay successful, and you can’t fault them for finding interesting ways to do that, especially if someone is willing to pay.

Wu-Tang Clan apparently said this move is to make people see art as a valuable, limited commodity. While I think that was probably a dumb PR statement, there are viable reasons why Wu-Tang would do something like this.

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