Trading in Tragically Hip bootlegs has long been an obsession of overzealous Hip fans. Search the Net and you'll find tons of message boards where Hipsters swap obscure live recordings and debate the possible meanings of Gord Downie 's spoken-word interludes. So it was probably a no-brainer for Downie to dream up the marketing gimmick for his new Battle Of The Nudes disc: offer fans a buy-in option on MP3 recordings of recent live shows throughout the tour.
"The traditional revenue streams have changed now, and the DVD has thrown people like us - who sell CDs - for a loop," explains Downie, in typically oblique fashion. "A CD is just 12 songs, and a DVD has all this extra stuff for the same price.
"So the idea that you can give people all these extra things - things from the process, things from the workshop, things half-finished, things partially ready - is pretty attractive."
Downie's cooked up a smart partnership with MapleMusic . For a mere 10 bucks, fans can snag MP3s of the gigs he's played with his Country of Miracles band in support of the new album. The "bootlegs" (can you call them bootlegs if they're authorized by the artist?) are posted on maplemusic.com and Downie's own wienerart.net site days after the band plays a concert.
"Giving a musician a project like that is a very smart thing to do - especially on the road, which is usually quite bereft of projects. I think it'll be a good excuse for us to try to come up with decent live recordings."