The New Stuff

Music Packaging: Music Albums on USB (From Bob Marley to Lady Gaga)

Music albums in USB flash drive format is not a new thing. In fact, it has been around for almost 3 years now. With the USB drive, not only can musicians pack in MP3 files, but exclusive video interviews, music videos and band member profiles.  It’s a unique way to release music, create a buzz and provide hard core fans with a collector’s edition memento. The first album released in USB  was released in June 4, 2007 for the 30th anniversary re-release of Bob Marley’s classic album Exodus. They sold it as a limited edition with only 4,000 flash drives.  The USB album is only part of a package of commemorative Exodus releases and the USB drive is not the main and only way of selling the album. There’s also a combination CD/DVD, a new, 144-page hardback book that includes the CD and a special vinyl edition of the album

Bob Marley USB

That year, many artists followed and released their albums using sticks as well.

White Stripes Icky USB
The White Stripes’ Icky Thump album for $99.  Removing their respective hats reveals the USB dongle, plug it in, and you’ll get all of the Icky Thump tracks in Apple Lossless format.  The Meg version does not speak. The Jack unit gets pissy if you try to make him pose in front of a yellow wall. [Gearlog]

Jennifer Lopez USB
J. Lo uber expensive $70 USB album is made of African mahogany wood and is laser etched with J. Lo’s initials and the title of her new album, Brave. Pre-loaded on the drive is a copy of the Brave album and nothing else.

Radiohead Flash Drive


Strictly limited edition 4Gb USB stick, shaped in Radiohead’s iconic “bear” image and housed in a bespoke deluxe box.

In the same year,  Ringgo Starr, Matchbox20 and other musicians chose to be just a little bit different and used the USB flash drives in bracelet design.

Ringo Starr Flash DriveMatchbox 20 merch USB

Some consumers, especially the collectors, find the new format cool because they get more than music-the USBs can contain music videos, pictures, artwork, download codes, pretty much anything digital. But there are also some who look down on it saying that it’s tacky and that the sound quality is not as good as the CDs. These people also concluded very early that it is just a hype and predicted that it will be gone soon just like any fad. Apparently, it stayed long.  In the next two years since its initial introduction to the market, many artists are still using USBs.

Portishead released an album in a limited edition box set which contained all the usual goodies but also a “P” USB stick with pre-loaded videos.

The Get Busy Committee stuck their upcoming album Uzi Does It on uzi-shaped flash drives

Japanese pop star Ayumi Hamasaki released her  album “Next Level” in USB flash drives (limited version) along with regular CDs

And of course, the coolest(and most expensive) of them all. This unique Beatles apple-shaped USB drive is loaded with the re-mastered audio for The Beatles’ 14 stereo titles, as well as all of the re-mastered CDs’ visual elements, including 13 mini-documentary films about the studio albums, replicated original UK art, rare photos and expanded liner notes. Costs $279.99

And now…2010 and it’s still here!

This year, Lady Gaga is scheduled to re-release “The Fame Monster” on USB around May 3, 2010.  The Fame Monster USB will contain over 800MBs of data and will include music, video and photos.  Of course all eight songs from “The Fame” will be there, including “Bad Romance” and Gaga’s duet with Beyonce, “Telephone.” Additionally, the drive contains nine remixes of songs from both “The Fame Monster” and “The Fame.” Lady Gaga will include her controversial short film “Telephone,” and will include Gaga’s single covers and new photos in a gallery.

USB drives do not attempt to replace the CDs. Its market is not the general consumers but the collectors and  the hardcore fanatics that’s why musicians only release albums in USB sticks as ‘limited edition or together with other formats.

So they were wrong when they said it would just fade like a fad. It’s been three years and people still buy it. They were also wrong when they said it’s tasteless and tacky. Hello Beatles, hello Lady Gaga.


Unified Manufacturing is an L.A. -based one-stop-shop that offers very affordable CD/DVD/USB replication, custom printing, promotional products, warehousing and fulfillment and many more. If you need an Instant Quote on a project and you want FREE SHIPPING, simply CLICK HERE.


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