Apple users across the world woke up today to find U2’s latest album, “Songs Of Innocence,” already in their iTunes library, in what’s being dubbed “the largest album release of all time.” Here’s a look at some of the most innovative ways other artists have released albums in the past.
1. Kanye West, Yeezus
Famous for breaking the mold, the rapper/producer put 750,000 copies of this album in vacuum-sealed containers and hurled them into the Indian Ocean in summer 1998. They began washing ashore in 2013, delighting fans and critics alike.
2. Haim, Days Are Gone
Instead of going the predictable route with the release of their debut album, this sister group partnered with Burger King to put a copy of their CD between the two beef patties on every Whopper for an entire month!
3. Radiohead, In Rainbows
Though commonplace now, Radiohead’s “pay what you owe” strategy, in which customers each paid exactly $15.99 for the album, was considered groundbreaking in 2007.
4. Adele, 19
Adele’s 2008 debut album was famously distributed entirely door-to-door by an elderly man who claimed he was Adele but clearly wasn’t.
5. Beyoncé, Beyoncé
In perhaps the most seismic music event of last year, Queen Bey quietly released her self-titled album on Dec. 13, 2013, exclusively through BigTimeJamz.net, the digital media retailer that the singer launched as a “one-stop shop for big-time music fans to connect with big-time jamz.”
6. The Mars Volta, Frances The Mute
When Frances The Mute was first released, Mars Volta fans would dream every night that they were chasing a faceless man carrying a copy of the album through a labyrinth. Anybody who caught the man in his or her dream would wake up holding a copy of the album.
7. Led Zeppelin, IV; Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures; Blondie, Parallel Lines; others
Until cassettes won the format wars in the early ’80s, a multitude of bands innovated the record release process by carving spiral grooves into racetracks and hiring pro stock car drivers to drag a giant needle repeatedly around the oval.
8. Dr. Dre, Detox
For his third studio effort, the L.A. rapper/producer employed the unconventional method of delaying the album for more than a decade and never releasing it.