LBYB is All the Rage in 2010

Listen Before You Buy (LBYB I’ll call it here) appears to be a promotional tool that is working in 2010. Call me a cynic and maybe it can be attributed to the economic times that we’re in, when no one has money to be buying shitty albums with only one catchy song, but I have seen more opportunities so far this year to preview music (an entire album specifically) than I have in recent years.

It’s the old question that haunts many: is the Internet taking over the way music is bought, sold, listened to and accessed? Probably, but by the same token, vinyl has seen one it’s biggest comebacks since it’s fade out in the 80s. Apparently, the recent Record Store Day totals that were reported showed that there was tremendous hikes in vinyl sales.

National Public Radio (NPR) has been a huge friend to musicians and labels as I can see it. Just in the last six weeks alone, NPR made the following forthcoming albums available to stream through for a limited time:

David Byrne & Fatboy Slim “Here Lies Love”
Jonsi “Go”
The Hold Steady “Heaven Is Whenever”
Broken Social Scene “Forgiveness Rock Record”
LCD Soundsystem “This Is Happening”
The Fall “Your Future Our Clutter”
Josh Ritter “So Runs the World Away”
New Pornographers “Together”

Of these, five are now albums which I have bought or plan to buy on their release date. It’s amazing what a little taste can do to a junkie such as myself. The beauty that I see in this method of “dangerous” marketing is that you have to be a strong artist these days. No more one-hit wonder bullshit. An LP needs to flow, be varied but contained, concise but epic. When you’re sitting at work all day and have time to stream this stuff and get into it some, you’re going to want it once it’s gone.

It’s easy to get online now and download one or two tracks from a new album, but to get a listen of the whole thing is the selling point. In the world of fickle music listeners, the remix is something you only seem to find online anymore as well. I personally used to love the days I could go into a major chain music store and sift through the massive singles rack. Now it’s all just M.I.A. and rap. Boring. Or, even worse, at a place like Best Buy you’re stuck having to did through the genre racks and look under a specific band to find if they have a single in stock.

But being able to find tons of remixes online at great sites like rcrdlbl.com or other music blogs is the best someone like me can hope for anymore. Sometimes you get lucky, for instance The Big Pink just made a remix EP for their track “Tonight” available to download for free on their website. I truly hope this is trend that picks up and continues.

Jack White (as I’ve mentioned in other entries) is a man who know how to market himself just as well as he knows how to play music (dare I say even better?) I am a huge fan of his (Alison Mosshart’s) band Dead Weather and they are also making their latest album available online to listen to for a limited time. In true White style though, there’s a catch. The album started streaming today on their site at 1PM EST… as a live video feed of the actual record being played on an old-fashioned record player (one that has a Velvet Underground Warhol banana on it!!). It continues playing until 1PM tomorrow (Saturday 5/1) and apparently there will be “surprise guest DJs.”

Oh, and is if that wasn’t enough, you can also catch Dead Weather play the entire album live on Monday 5/3 at 6PM EST on their MySpace.

Yes, 2010 is shaping up quite nicely.

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The Swell Season Strict Joy

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova you may recall from their breakthrough performances in a little Irish indie film called Once (that also took an Oscar for Best Song). You may recall it because it was an adorable movie, or you may recall it because it had the incredible song stylings of Marketa and Glen, or you may recall it because of Marketa’s impishly cute thank yous during the Academy Awards speech. Either way, they’re a musical force hard to forget.

They call themselves The Swell Season and their album “Strict Joy” drops October 27th. They are also planning U.S. tour dates! In the meantime, you can stream the whole LP on their site or, even better, you can watch them perform six of the songs live on Bob Boilen’s desk at the NPR office in Washington D.C. The best part about it is Hansard’s stage (office) banter where he references everything from Taxi Driver to Bobby Charles to Lasse Hallström to shoplifting at his first job.

They even do an encore of “When Your Mind’s Made Up” that will no doubt make you slide to the edge of your seat if you’re in any way human.

Check out the NPR performance here… and stream the album here.