of Montreal released a little manifesto the other day entitled ‘We Will Only Propagate Exceptional Objects’. In it they note the depersonalisation of the music buying process in these digital days. But instead of merely decrying the situation, they’ve attempted to offer up a new paradigm for music consumption. One in which people are enticed back to record stores to experience anew the physical joy of holding a new record in your hands.
Here’s how it works . . . the band’s forthcoming album – Skeletal Lamping – will be made available as a range of ‘exceptional objects’ which include the download codes for the album. These include fetching t-shirts, cool wall decals, bags, and badge sets. The designers – Gemini Tactics and The Bee With Wheels – have also designed CD and LP covers for those who prefer to hold the music in their hands.
All of which is cool. But what struck me was the ‘exceptional objects’ bit. It immediately brought Jyri Engestrom’s social objects theory to mind (the idea that people connect online because of an object – in Flickr the social object is photography, for example). I think the same principle is what will make The Skeletal Lamping Collection ’08 work.
As well as recapturing that ineffable sense of excitement of a physical music purchase, buyers also experience the feeling of exclusivity that comes with owning a limited edition object that connects them to the of Montreal ‘brand’. These objects in turn may help them forge new connections; their wall decal will be a talking point when guests come, their t-shirt likewise at a gig or whatever. Ultimately, I think what this does well is help make music social again.