The experimental U.K. release of Slash's new self-titled solo album by magazine publisher Future has already paid off.
Future's "Classic Rock Presents: Slash" is released today (April 7) but has already hit almost 10,000 online pre-orders at Amazon, Play.com, HMV and Future's own online store, according to the company. The special edition of the album has been at No. 1 on Play.com's pre-orders music chart.
It is the first time an album has been released exclusively by a magazine publisher ahead of the general release.
The special edition of the monthly music title includes a deluxe version of the "Slash" album with a bonus track, and a 132-page magazine about Slash's career and the recording of the new album with special guests including Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. It retails for £14.99 ($22.88), is limited to 40,000 copies and will be on sale for one month only, followed by the standard album release from Roadrunner Records U.K.
Roadrunner has licensed the album for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The U.S. release of the "Slash" solo album (Billboard, March 13) is through his own Dik Hayd Records via EMI Label Services
The Classic Rock release, a joint venture with Roadrunner Records U.K., is distributed to 4,000 retailers in the U.K. and Ireland - including newsstand chains such as W.H. Smith and mass merchants Tesco and Sainsbury's. Those stores rarely stock hard rock CD releases.
The concept was conceived by Ingham and Jordan Berliant, of Slash's L.A.-based management the Collective, who says Future's commitment to the project "made an event out of the release."
Roadrunner U.K. managing director Mark Palmer says the deluxe package is targeted at Slash fans, as well as those familiar with his work with Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver but who may not shop regularly in music retailers. "The great thing about [mass merchants] is that it's a great way to bring about impulse purchases and I think there are a lot of people out there who are familiar with Slash's work," he says.
"Future knows how to get directly to the audience we're targeting with this project," adds Berliant. "Their magazines are sold at ten times more places than a CD is sold, which gives the consumer that many more opportunities to reach an audience."
Slash and his team provided the publisher with extensive access in order to produce the one-off magazine, and the guitarist is happy with the results. "He's seen it and loves it," says Berliant.
"The success of this new format has not been ignored by the major labels, several of which have already contacted us to discuss plans for future releases," said Chris Ingham, group publisher of Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, in a statement.
He added that Future has "pioneered a new method of music distribution that's already proving hugely popular amongst fans," noting that "artists and their labels can instantly redress the shrinking number of high street outlets for music retail - creating a premium package that fans want to collect."
The Future fan pack edition is not eligible for the Official Charts Company (OCC) U.K. albums chart, but Palmer is not troubled by that. "The idea was to get the record out there when the amount of outlets for this kind of product is diminishing, and secondly to deliver a real piece of quality piece of product that fans would want," he says.
For more on Future's new business model for music releases, see the current edition of Billboard.