In October 2015, there was an announcement of a new Famicom/NES cartridge album coming out, called 8bit Music Power. A new NES game, in 2015? Well it is not a game, but rather an album of chiptune songs. The album is apparently going to be release only for the Famicom system (not compatible with a NES, but they might make an NES version of demand is high enough), so if you have a Famicom system gathering dust time to clean it and hook it up to your listening system!
…except I don’t want to find my Famicom system just to play one album (never mind that I am based in the US and all I have is an NES that I have to get shipped from my parents’ house). Practically speaking this is not a viable option to hear an album if my hardware playback choices is limited to one device. I wouldn’t mind as much if there were at least a Physical CD or CD-quality-or-better digital downloads for purchase in addition to, but so far the announcement only mentioned playback through a Famicom system.
A Cartridge Album??
I see this music album cartridge as a collectors item, but not for repeated music playback. Other than just a music album, there are rendered graphics that move like a simplified game while the music plays, but that is just a bonus feature, like stickers or a t-shirt included in other limited album releases.
If this album included a USB-Drive with lossless FLAC files then I would say it would be a good purchase, otherwise I would not buy it because I would have to buy a device to play Famicom cartridges just to listen!
People pay for convenience, and will downright refuse to buy if it gets to a point of over complexity. Would you go out of your way to playback an album it if meant climbing in your attic to grab a device that may play the album after 25 years of non-usage? I would not, I would want to pop a CD or download the songs straight to my hard drive (not to mention that some Famicon/NES did not even have RCA Audio connectors and used an RF-connector, which was not as good as RCA connectors).
Limiting More Famous Works
Imagine if the new Star Wars EP7: The Force Awakens film was only released to the public in classic 35mm reels so only those who have the old-school tape projectors can see the film? How much complaints from the majority of fans would be if the only format was in an old and difficult medium that is a sense only for ‘hardcore fans?’ Even though this chiptune album will never generate as much fans as Star Wars, limiting the release to a old media for ‘feelings of nostalgia’ is not helping it reach more fans.
In a more extreme case, there was news earlier this year about American Hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan’s newest album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin having only one copy in existence and whoever purchases that copy cannot share with the public for 88 years! Most fans would be dead by the time it would be allowed to be listened to, much less get a version of the album to keep for themselves.
The group said that the reason for the single copy and long wait was to ‘preserve the music as a form of art.’ Art is meant to be appreciated; art is a gift to society and to enrich our lives from new ideas made by unique people.
(well let’s distribute to the public first, Indy)
Like how the famous paintings aren’t meant to just sit one one rich person’s mansion only for them to gawk, but in museum where the general public can view, wonder, and appreciate the work of art presented. By limiting how it is released all you are doing is preventing newer fans to be born. For music it is meant to be heard by as many people as possible, why do you think sheet music and recording music onto vinyl started in the first place?
When limiting your supply options, all you are doing is hurting your potential and current fans and buyers. That is not to say that you should release your material in EVERY format, but at least one in the best quality that is not very difficult to share. I am not advocating illegally sharing media files, but at least have variety enough for serious and casual fans.
Here’s Hope when the Album is Released
I do hope that there are digital versions of this album, so more people can appreciate the music as works of art each musician and producer put into. It seems like only die-hards can enjoy an album like this, and force others to pirate a ROM or a soundtrack rip, which result in the company and ultimately the composers losing their deserved money for composing great music.
I admit this is a clever and unique way to release an album, but it is rather inconvenient for me to enjoy. So I do hope they will release legal lossless downloads of this album at least a week after the cartridge release, and not 88 years after.
You can pre-order the album at Play-Asia before it is released on January 31, 2016.
Official album page of 8bit Music Power (in Japanese).
Thanks to RocketNews24 for the news info.