The innovative scheme was cooked up the band’s manager, Jon Gray, who identified several clear advantages to enclosing the new release in a magazine featuring articles about the band and lyrics to songs on the new album, ‘In Full Regalia’.
First off, distribution channels for magazines offer a far wider network than that offered by Sweden’s dwindling selection of record stores.
“There are around 80 specialised record outlets and a lot of towns don’t have a record store any more. Instead, we’ll now have 600 sales outlets, so on Monday April 26th hardly anyone will be more than 500 metres from an Ark CD,” Gray told the Svenska Dagbladet daily.
The Ark’s flamboyant frontman Ola Salo admitted to some initial scepticism. But eventually he was won over by the managerial masterplan, which involved circumventing a 25 percent sales tax on music. Books and magazines instead qualify for a 6 percent rate.
“Thanks to adverts and the fact that we’re only paying the VAT rate for magazines, we’re able to set the price of the CD and magazine combined at just 99 kronor ($14). More content at a lower price. In fact, it’s half the price of a normal CD,” Salo told tabloid Expressen.
The sale of ads in the magazine also meant that the band was able to record its new album without the backing of a record label.
“Recorded music is free these days. It’s hard to make enough money from record sales for stage outfits, music videos and a homepage. Maybe we just need to accept that and emphasize new values instead,” said Gray.
With 100,000 copies of the album hitting the shelves via ‘Artistmagasinet’ next week, the band is hoping to rediscover some of the enormous popularity it enjoyed in the previous decade, when all four of its albums topped the Swedish charts.