Faced with slumping sales, the record industry has tried new methods -- like including a bonus CD or DVD with albums -- to provide consumers with incentives to buy rather than download. Metallica's St. Anger, for example, came with a bonus DVD of all the album's songs played live in rehearsal, as well as access to a vault of bootleg concert recordings. To prevent pre-release file sharing, Guster released a "Meow Mix" of their new album's songs onto Kazaa. These tracks featured the same instrumentation and back-up vocals as the final album, but with meowing instead of vocals. The thought was that the incomplete versions would make finding the real versions close to impossible. Such methods, however, are quickly becoming outdated as new releases include much more over the top material to entice buyers.

Released tomorrow, Jay-Z's The Black Album encourages people to purchase CDs with a contest akin to Willy Wonka's chocolate bars. Special golden tickets have been placed in three random CDs nationwide. Whoever finds these tickets will receive a brand new Mercedes-Benz. Ten second-place winners will receive a free limited edition book containing Jay-Z's lyrics and original artwork. G-Unit has incorporated a remarkably similar incentive for their debut album Beg for Mercy. Four lucky CD purchasers will find a golden ticket guaranteeing them a diamond-studded G-Unit medallion worth $12,500. The premise is simple, going after people's weakness for get-rich-quick schemes.

The jury is out, however, as to whether or not these new techniques will work. Nevertheless, some artists have found increasingly innovative ways to sell more albums without political campaigns or lawsuits. Rather than resort to tactics that may damage the band's image, these artists increase their product's hype, and in doing so, the public's desire to purchase their albums.


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