Fans are getting a unique peak at Spoon's new album, "They Want My Soul." Even though the release won't be out until August 5, starting Tuesday, July 15th, three of its songs will see the light early with pre-orders by way of a free 10-inch bonus record available at 160 record stores throughout the country.
The added incentive of a free, physical product for those willing to cough up the $25 now for limited edition colored 12-inch vinyl discs later was the band's idea. Orchestrating their own "Vinyl Gratification" program, they would direct fans to participating shops nearby to get something immediately and keep their receipt as a proof-of-purchase to redeem for the LP in about a month. And rather than focus early promotional efforts on big digital outlets, trying to engage the masses with one or two songs that may be out already in another form (the single "Rent I Pay," for instance, already has a video), the excitement over a tangible incentive as an early taste is sure to excite the Spoon's core fans.
The tracks included are "Rent I Pay," the newly released "Do You" (below) and "Inside Out." With the new material on a fixed medium like vinyl, there are further perks in that the unreleased goods here won't so ready propagate digitally in advance of the true release date. Plus, as frontman Britt Daniel told Billboard, here was a chance to direct an audience to the sort of outlets the band actually likes visiting.
"A few weeks ago as we were figuring out how to roll out the new Spoon album I kept coming back to this: Why do we incentivize people to buy our music from big outlets but we don't extend the same courtesy to actual record stores?" said Daniel. "Why do we encourage listeners to buy early by offering 'instant gratification' tracks for pre-orders of the digital album, yet there's no special motivation for buying music from [Austin's] Waterloo Records or [Chicago's] Reckless Records? And there's no incentive to buy the format that so many of those listeners prefer -- an actual physical item they can hold and read and play on a turntable?"
To make it happen, Daniel brought the idea to Spoon's new label, Loma Vista, owned by former Warner Bros. Records' chairman/CEO Tom Whalley with a deal under Universal Republic. They helped to recruit Record Store Day — which aside from running the annual Record Store Day and Black Friday events at independent stores across the globe, also helps manage dozens of promotional releases to its coalition of shops each year — that led to outreach and forming an impressive participating marketplace.
Spoon's 2010 album, "Transference," sold 185,000 copies, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart with 53,000 copies sold in its first week. With only 2,000 of these pre-order records manufactured, Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Colliton said it's easy to predict they'll sell out.
"I can't tell you how happy I am that there are artists out there who remember what it's like to go into a record store and remember that they have fans who want to shop at record stores," she said. "They're really thinking of ways to reward people who are buying the physical piece, and I think it's fantastic."
Due to a rush getting the discs out, the bonus 10-inch records will come in plain white sleeves, but Daniel is sure to emphasize the audio quality.
"We're cutting no corners with regard to the audio," he said. "Have you ever noticed the difference in sound quality between 45 RPM and 33 RPM? Forty-five RPM on a larger format disc, with more physical representation of the music via record grooves, delivers even more stunning audio."
For a fanatic niche, the act of listening to a vinyl record for the first time is still something of a spiritual experience. Daniel said he counts himself amongst that population and the idea for this promotional effort came from channeling that love of the medium.
"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," said Daniel. "And I hope you'll join us in supporting the independent record shops that have supported us for so long."