I’ve always been a huge fan of creative CD packaging and I assumed that the ease of illegal downloads and recent plunge in music sales would lead to a CD and DVD packaging revolution of sorts. I imagined record companies would try to motivate fans to actually buy the music by delivering it in a damned cool, non-downloadable way:
“Hey man did you get the new Wilco CD?”
“Yeah – I downloaded it from Pirate Bay. It’s pretty awesome.”
“I was gonna do that too, but the CD comes with a Jeff Tweedy hand puppet! Check it out,” (singing in a funny voice with puppet) “‘His goal in life was to be an echo…'”
“Awesome! That’s almost as cool as my Bob Dylan ‘Modern Times’ music box!”
“Yeah, I know!”
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not just a fan of collectible item add-ons. I was hoping we’d see things like leather or wooden jewel cases, jewel cases that were actually a CD player or ones that are thick enough to have an exotically colored insect encased in it like those key chains at the convenience store – just a really awesome physical object that’s cool to hold and/or look at. It seemed like there was monetary motivation enough for a “sky’s the limit” mentality, but it hasn’t really come to fruition. There’s been an uptick in the “limited edition” phenomenon, with most of it being in the form of a bonus disc and a thicker booklet with extra photos. (In my experience, these types of “limited” editions aren’t all that better than the “limited” and most of the ones I’ve bought are still available for purchase years later.) And retrospective box sets are getting a little more extravagant, especially with boutique labels like Hip-O Select. Also, the resurgence of vinyl has helped in that it requires the packaging to be larger and able to handle things like posters, jigsaw puzzles, coffee table books and so on. But, for the most part, CD packaging has gotten worse rather than better as record labels try to cut expenses. (I saw a CD recently that boldly advertised “For those who just love the music” and came in a disposable paper digi-pack.)
Anyways, I could talk for days about that topic and the joy of opening up my Richard Buckner Since edition that comes with a stamped blank postcard addressed to Richard and a small putt-putt golf pencil to write with, or the wonder of lifting the massive lid off of Bear Family’s In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain 12-CD Carter Family box set (or any Bear Family box set for that matter), but that’s another post.
This post is to celebrate a great example of the ingenuity and innovation I was hoping for. The band Moldover – actually I think it’s just one guy – has released a CD with some of the coolest packaging ever! He has designed a CD holder out of a custom circuit board that has the all the CD information (including track titles) written out in circuitry! But that would just be a novelty unless the circuit board was actually functional in some way. Well, it IS! It’s a light-sensitive theramin! (You know, those “musical instruments” that look like television antennas that alter frequency based on how far away your hand is. They’re used a lot in cartoons and Flaming Lips albums.) So not only can you actually make music with your CD packaging, but it comes with a headphone jack built in so you can do so without bothering the person next to you on the subway! Awesome!
Check out the video sales pitch from Moldover himself:
The deluxe circuit board version is $50 and available at Mooldover.com. They also have other variations available, including a small pocket-version of the theramin, the old school cardboard sleeve and of course a download.