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Mos Def launches album on t-shirt

Mos Def

Some artists get annoyed when “sell more t-shirts” is presented as a solution to beating pirates, which I can understand because it implies recorded music is worth nothing. But Mos Def has hit upon a way to do it which still gives the music value; the album is the t-shirt.

Def is putting out his latest album The Ecstatic as a shirt. The music tee has the album’s cover art on the front, tracklist on the back and a code for a downloadable version of the album on a tag. The medium (not to mention the S, L, XL and XXL) is the message.

I love this idea. This is a really authentic product that will mean something to fans and values everything the artist does. I’d like to see other things being used as media for digital content. A world where the format you release your work on is as bigger creative choice as the cover art is way more interesting than one where the only choices are CD/download.

More on this over at Paste.

45 Responses to “Mos Def launches album on t-shirt”

  1. Mos Def launches album on t-shirt | Tiny Celestial Says:

    [...] You can check out the mini article here. [...]

  2. Toz Says:

    So smart !

  3. Jack Frost Says:


  4. joe Says:

    Dope.nice work Mos….

  5. Frankie Says:

    But will the shirt look good, or will it just be a square with album art on it?

  6. raviseo Says:

    hmmmmm stumbled

  7. bobo Says:

    Can’t people just read the tag, write a number down, and then get a free album, LEGALLY?? This doesn’t sound all that smart, great thought tho…

  8. mattmason Says:

    I was thinking the same thing Bobo, I’m sure they’ve thought of that. I guess all you’d need do is cover it up so it was only somethng you could see once you had actually bought it.

  9. luchi Says:

    we gat a major problem here in nigeria with pirates so an idea like dis is really quite novel any body gat any such ideas? pls give me a holla

  10. Jordan Says:

    Actually Matt, if they simply just put it in a package like they do with some clothing (mostly those nice dress shirts for officewear/special events) then the problem Bobo proposes is solved.

  11. mattmason Says:

    Even better!

  12. del Says:

    how does this prevent pirating?

  13. What if musicians took on the "Product Launch" Concept ?? - Page 2 Says:

    [...] Re: What if musicians took on the "Product Launch" Concept ?? interesting news… Mos Def is releasing his latest album as a t-shirt… read more here: The Pirate’s Dilemma [...]

  14. mattmason Says:

    @ del: It doesn’t prevent pirating of the music, but it turns the music back into something physical fans might want to pay for. That’s half the battle.

  15. Bas Says:

    Actually, it’s all of the battle. The reality is that you have to compete with free. So as a musician, you really have to give your fans a reason to buy. And that’s what Mos Def has done here.

  16. lulu Says:

    I think this is an interesting new creative idea. I’m SURE they must of covered the tag..to prevent people just reading it. But when it comes to piracy…there will still be the odd few people that upload the music they bought and put it online for all to download. soo people are most likey to still be able to download it at some point. but its still a good idea.

  17. SomeRandomNerd Says:

    Nice idea- I think I’d prefer the Sparkelhorse/Danger Mouse approach of releasing a blank CD;

    Mind you, as someone who a) doesn’t wear band Tshirts any more and b) someone who recently decided their CD collection was essentially a pile of plastic that was no longer worth the space it was taking up in my flat (seeing as the music lives on iTunes) and put it into storage, I wouldn’t personally have much need for either… but then, I’m also outside the target market for most artists too…

  18. Jacob Says:

    This idea has already been done by the much more talented band Of Montreal…. yawn….

  19. roger Says:

    wats to stop people from buying it then retuning it when they have the code?

  20. Scott Says:

    The code is only downloadable once.

  21. Scott Says:

    Or the code is on the inside.

  22. robb Says:

    great idea, but one shirt ( and thus, one download link) can be used by many person.
    am i right ?

  23. Reznor Says:

    Are you people dumb? Nothing prevents people from using the code without buying the shirt. That’s not the point. The point is that people have a choice between buying an album and downloading it for free. The only advantage a bought cd has, is it’s cover and booklet, that’s it. Not enough for most people, they still prefer the free (and illegal) download. Mod Def’s concept here just tries giving the buyer something that he feels is worth paying for. You’re not only getting the music but a free shirt as well.

  24. tomasz. Says:

    “the much more talented band Of Montreal”

    more talented than what, though?

  25. mattmason Says:

    I’m with Tomasz on that last point. I don’t know that band, so I’m sticking with Def. And Mr. Reznor nailed it too.

  26. will Says:

    Knock ‘em out the box Mos, knock ‘em out Mos.

  27. anderson Says:

    Its really a nice idea. This is a really wonderful product that will be of great value for fans.

  28. music t shirts Says:

    It doesn’t prevent pirating of the music, but it turns the music back into something physical fans might want to pay for. That’s half the battle.

  29. djalicat Says:

    another reason to love mos def! awesome idea!

  30. dAN Says:

    Here’s a better idea for musicians to make money, write good music!

    If your music is good enough people will pay to support you either through merchandise, buying the album, or seeing you in concert.

  31. Jason Says:

    Even then, all it takes is one altruistic uploader to buy the tee and upload the album as a torrent or onto the Gnutella network. Hell, the poor fools who resort to Google index downloading for free music will be able to get it too, directly from the server.

  32. Troy Says:

    Great Idea! Makes me want to buy music again!

  33. chuck Says:

    Of Montreal already did this when “Skeletal Lamping” came out

  34. Jennifer Says:

    Although I own the ubiquitous iPod, as well as several other means of playing downloaded music, I prefer CDs (or SACDs, DVDAs, even vinyl) over the downloaded format. Not only do I enjoy having something physical that I can hold, I find the downloaded versions to lack fidelity. I just can’t justify spending money on mp3s, so I either pirate them or rip a CD. If I pirate the music, and end up liking it, I’ll often buy a CD so I can have the better quality.

  35. Band t-shirts Says:

    I download the book and rad it. It is very good.

  36. Stephen Ackart Says:

    Rrrrrrrrr! I guess me swashbuckling PC acted up again and stumbled me onto an anti-pirate site. She’ll walk the plank fer this one! Rrrrrrrr

  37. JOHN Says:

    90% of the cost of a cd is for the ink on the booklet.

  38. pligg.com Says:

    The Pirate’s Dilemma – Mos Def’s Album-T-Shirt…

    Now that’s a damn good idea….

  39. Jus Jones Says:

    Well if each tshirt has a unique directory like with zshare ex. http://www.zshare.com/33435343662 and a corresponding code that can only be used once, then the problem is solved…

  40. Tucker Says:

    i like mos def but this is a stupid idea… im guessing this album will cost more money because of its usefulness vs a plastic cd jacket.

  41. iLL-Literacy Says:

    [...] to the surface!  To me, the difference is whether the idea is something that helps the listener experience the music/art in a new and interactive way, or if it’s simply a marketing ploy that sucks the [...]

  42. evan Says:

    Beastie Boys have done this with their recent reissue series. I got the Hello Nasty shirt/album with an apple lossless version of the album and unreleased tracks. Made me feel better about buying music I already owned at least.

  43. ricky Says:

    what happens when you wash the shirt? this is so retarded

  44. Bruce Says:

    This idea does nothing to thwart piracy. Consumer A buys shirt, downloads music then uploads it to their favorite torrent or P2P site. The only thing this does is just save him printing costs and changes the method of delivery. It’s the consumers that create the environment of piracy – this does nothing to address that.

  45. Mos Defs neues Album erscheint als T-Shirt | Mururoar | audiophilosophie Says:

    [...] [via the pirate's dilemma] [...]

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