Continuing a most welcomed trend that has been occurring with a number of other artists recently (Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails) former Replacements front man Paul Westerberg has bypassed traditional distribution methods and has released his latest album online within days of finishing it.
Here's the lowdown; the album is called 49:00, and Westerberg released it digitally through Amazon for 49 cents. Its concept is a 49-minute album released on June 49 (aka July 19), and it's being sold as one single MP3 file.
In addition to being on one continuous file, the album has no track listings or lyrics and contains a number of short fragmented songs that often end abruptly. In many ways the album functions like a sort of musical stream of consciousness and ends with a flurry of cover versions of songs by The Beatles, Elton John, Steppenwolf and Simon & Garfunkle.
The album art also has that DIY, "something I scribbled while I was drunk" vibe to it;
Of course I couldn't resist downloading it. In many ways I am motivated to support non-traditional distribution means for music. I also appreciate the punk rock aesthetic inherent to Westerberg's approach, saying a sort of "screw you" to the record industry while at the same time giving real music fans access to his art.
I think a number of artists will continue to embrace the freedom that comes from self distribution in the digital age, and of course I will continue to embrace it with open ears!
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