intrinsic value of music has been reduced to zero [whereas]
contemporary art is worth millions by virtue of its exclusivity.
This album is a piece of contemporary art. The debate starts
a few moments to read
this article. It covers a new effort from
Wu-Tang Clan -- The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
I find this to be an amazing and fascinating effort. And, I will
predict right now, the band will realize a million-dollar-plus
sale. (Probably more than $5 million, but less than $10 million.)
as I think about it, one of my immediate reactions is that there’s
a problem in the concept as expressed in this quote. And that
problem is found in the master recordings of this album.
online right now and pull up your favorite search engine of choice.
And then look for any of the following…
Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
my knowledge, the originals of these three works of art are currently
housed in museum collections. And, in the cases of Starry
Night and David, I believe they have been insured
for over $100 million.
the originals… quite valuable.
there is another thing to consider. A quick expansion of the search
will reveal that you can own each of them. Right now. No auction
involved. While it might cost you a pretty penny depending on
getting the frame or the size you want, or in arranging the display,
the price of ownership for you would be far less than the millions
of dollars involved in getting the original.
ownership of copies or posters or limited runs… sure. But you
can frame a print of Starry Night to look at every day,
and then go visit it in New York from time to time.
honestly believe that the Wu-Tang Clan will release this one edition
of the album. I don’t expect many of us will ever hear a note
from The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, nor will some
limited edition of the album be released down the road someday.
for example… somewhere down the road the Wu-Tang Clan members
will be approached about contributing to an extremely worthy cause.
Or… the person that purchases it will be approached. And some
sort of fundraising special edition might result. But what I am
simply noting here are special circumstances. I truly believe
that the Wu-Tang Clan are trying something different and fully
stand behind the promises of one-and-done-exclusivity.)
thing is… is it really the only one? …is it THE one?
Road… Led Zeppelin IV… go ahead and select what
you believe to be the greatest albums of all time. In short, a
Starry Night of music. If the original recordings were
ever authenticated and sold, chances are we could quickly come
up with a list of musical masterpieces where the master recordings
would be worth millions upon millions (upon many more millions)
point is… even with all of the detailed and incredible packaging
involved, and even with the there’s-only-one involved, the edition
of The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin being made available
is not the original recordings.
you look at that quote attributed to the band, I am being completely
honest when I say that I agree with the sentiment. This album
does qualify as art. Many pieces of art are worth simply breathtaking
amounts of money. And the value of The Wu – Once Upon a Time
in Shaolin will be settled by a portion of the “debate” created
by this process.
celebrate and applaud this effort as unique, creative, and… honestly…
genius. I think it’s incredible.
contribution to the “debate” though isn’t the value of the album
that will be sold… or the value of the music and content and art
involved. Instead, I’m just wondering about a separate portion
of the quote I noted as one of those that stood out initially
packaging sounds beautiful.
yet I could quite legally go out and find an extraordinary da
Vinci reproduction and package it beautifully. It could be worth
significant money when I finish. But does that value reflect the
exclusivity of the object?
Perhaps it actually does. But perhaps not.
perhaps the single edition of The Wu – Once Upon a Time in
Shaolin and the work that went into it is of equal respect
in the concept of original edition and exclusive availability.
the piece that ultimately will be toured for secure listening
parties and then awarded to the highest bidder the masterpiece?
let the debate begin.
~ ~ ~
I was getting ready to post this article, I began thinking of
some other ideas, and honestly… I wasn’t sure where to place them.
So, an appendix… an epilogue… a second act…
many ways, and to continue the sentiment of the debate, the production
of this album is much like any artist working on commission. The
trick here is that the benefactor isn’t known up front. But for
years and decades and centuries and longer, artists have produced
paintings and poems and songs and more for private individuals
we’re dealing with on the most basic of levels is supply and demand.
I can make the argument that the album being delivered to the
highest bidder may not be an original in the same definition as
an original painting or the master recordings… a concept I still
believe is interesting and valid to the conversation… but that
idea doesn’t have to make the item any more or less valuable.
The Wu-Tang Clan has produced The Wu – Once Upon a Time in
Shaolin… and subject to certain conditions and understandings
such as the packaging and listening events, are selling one copy
of that album… and will be taking offers on that item. That is
the art they are placing in the marketplace for sale.
statues have frames and molds and samples from developing work…
many artistic pieces have sketches and drafts… many songs have
demos and rough recordings. In some cases, those pieces of the
process have tremendous value. For example -- How about a few
sheets of hand-written Harry Potter from J. K. Rowling? …a cassette
of John Lennon playing some home-recorded samples of songs for
the first time? …a mold for a work by Picasso?
more depth and consideration you give the subject, The Wu
– Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and its sale are a truly intriguing