Is the Music ‘Tee’ the New CD?

by Yvette Travillian

If you ask some people the state of the major labels may be moving past panic mode and possibly entering a critical melt down. Between merges, firings and finger pointing – labels are struggling and working their marketing departments extra hard to create new and innovative ways to encourage music fans to actually go out and buy music.

One of those ways is by jumping on board ‘The Music Tee’ – a joint venture between fashion meets music company Invisible DJ and media marketing firm Girlie Action. The Music Tee is a t-shirt fashioned to act as a CD: the front of the shirt displays the artist’s album cover with the back displaying track listings, song lyrics and album art work (something I miss now that I’m all digital – but I’m happy that iTunes is starting to offer this with downloads) .

Most interesting is that what’s also included is an attached redemption code – which allows you to go to the artists’ website and download the entire album as an mp3. Even cooler, these downloads will be reported to Nielsen Soundscan and counted as actual ‘CD’ sales! This unique deal was arranged last year when the Tee was first implemented by Mos Def to launch his latest album Ecstatic through his label, Downtown Records.

Although the Mos Def Tee seemed to only make headlines on the low the concept is suddenly becoming more and more popular with it now being scooped up by the major labels. Digital Music News recently reported that Warner Brothers and Interscope are jumping on the ‘Tee’ Bandwagon and offering their catalogues  along with some lesser known cool labels like Shangri-La, Knitting Factory and Dim Mak.

The t-shirts were developed with the hopes of giving artists’ cool and inventive ways to platform and expose their new albums – which in turn would encourage music fans to go out and buy it, opposed to downloading it for free off the internet. Artists such as Bad Brains, Kid Sister, Wale, Robin Thicke and Amanda Blank are all down for the cause – and I think it’s kind of a cool idea. Everybody loves rockin’ their favorite artist on a tee so why not be able to do that and at the same time put other people on to new music.

However, my only concern is that I think one of the reasons a lot of people stopped buying CD’s in the first place was because the prices weren’t worth the quality of music you received. So will a T-shirt be a good enough incentive to change the minds of consumer’s and convince them to go ahead and give buing albums another try -especially with a $45 price tag attached to it…(!)??

I guess we shall see.