In a move that is either a sly marketing strategy, or penance for years of countless on-stage, diva-like bailouts, Guns N' Roses (well, really Axl Rose) has debuted the 14-year in the making album, Chinese Democracy a few days before its Best-Buy exclusive November 23 release date, fully streaming it on the band's MySpace page.
So head on over there and give it a listen. The reviews have overall been, while not terrible, lukewarm. I suppose it's only natural that expectations will kill you when you wait 17 years for a follow-up album and spend 14 of those years hyping said project.
What's fascinating here, is the way that Chinese Democracy has been marketed. While fans are certainly not expecting "Appetite 2," it's reasonable to assume that its release would be a big deal. It may be a tribute to the fact that the record company felt that it was not profitable to sell this album as a physical copy in ALL stores that truly cements the beginning of the end of an era where people go to the store to buy some physical form of music. Its exclusive release with Best Buy almost seems like a rare bonus, or an exception to the norm (which would be purchasing the download of the album.)
With huge artists like Nine Inch Nails and Prince (just to name a few) experimenting with releasing albums exclusively online, the fact that you can't walk into your local Wal-Mart and buy a copy of the first new Guns N' Roses album in 17 years, is a huge statement to how the music industry is attempting to adapt to the changing world. If Chinese Democracy had hit just 10 years ago, it would have been hugely hyped on television, with aisle displays in every store across the country, and even huge online hype. Now, it seems we have the "grassroots" strategy of selling music in a time when purchasing it seems to have lost its directness.