10 Weird Formats Used to Release Music
Sometimes a multi-coloured vinyl isn’t enough to satisfy the creative minds of artists. They’ve turned to alternative physical formats to release their music into the world. Here are our top ten weird formats which have been used to distribute music:
1. A Circuit Board
Composer Tristen Beriech released his album Noise Patterns on a simple circuit board. You simply flick the switch to ‘on’, plug in your headphones, and the music will start playing. It’s one-bit noise though, coming from the circuit board’s single chip.
2. 12 Formats for 12 Songs
Trevor Jackson released an album in 2015 with a different format dedicated to each track. On top of using the typical 12″, 10”, 7” and CD, Jackson also released tracks on Mini CD, Cassette, USB, VHS, Mini Disc, DAT, 8-track and Reel-to-Reel. He subsequently released one vinyl with the full album – but where’s the fun in buying that?
3. Four Individual CDs
The Flaming Lips released their album Zaireeka in the form of four CDs. The layers to each track were spread across them and they needed to be played simultaneously to hear the album in full. This wasn’t a one-off for the band, they’ll pop up again later in this list.
4. Flexi Disc on a Helium Balloon
Jack White released his single Freedom At 21 on a limited edition flexi-disc. He tied the 1000 flexi-discs to a helium balloon and let them free into the sky. It seems a rather popular method as Garcia Goodbye also released a single into the sky by attaching USBs to helium balloons.
5. USB Prescription Packet
Marrow released their track Sunshine Enema on a USB stick which was shaped like a pill capsule. This came inside a pill container, even with a childproof cap, which was sold inside a prescription bag. The pill even came with dosing instructions!
6. Hand-Cranked Music Box
Mogwai released their track Tracy on a miniature music box. The scottish band got a limited run of these music boxes produced, and when you wound the small handle at the side, the track would play out.
7. Sheet Music
Beck released his album Song Reader in 2011 on only one format – sheet music. This was incredibly brave as if you wanted to hear the album, you had to learn how to play it on a musical instrument. In 2014 a recorded version was released, but Beck only sang one of the songs.
8. Nintendo Cartridge
Alex Mauer released his album Vegavox in 2007 in the form of 170 handmade NES cartridges. To hear the tracks, people would have to whip out their old nintendo consoles. Other artists have turned to Nintendo cartridges as formats for release including Fort Atlantic.
9. Triple Decker Record
The Dead Weather released a second version of their single Blue Blood Blues embedded within the original 12″ single. To listen to the new 7″, you had to remove it from the 12 inch record. Not an easy task as it was said you would “require a Swiss-Army knife or screwdriver” to get to it.
10. USBs Inside Body Parts
Flaming Lips released four tracks on a USB in 2011 which were encased in an edible gummy skull. For Valentine’s Day 2013, they carried on with the theme of edible body parts by releasing a compilation of love songs inside an edible, autonomically correct, chocolate heart.