|This record came out Tuesday. I ordered it April 17th. Still don't have it. Also, boobs.|
So! Your band is releasing a new album. Because this whole "buying the physical product" thing is getting more and more passé by the day, you decide to do a limited pre-sale or pre-order. To add some sweet ass incentive, you decide to do something unique. For instance, maybe the pre-orders come with a commemorative t-shirt, or are pressed on a limited run of colored vinyl, or you include a special edition wall thermometer with your lead singer's crotch at the bottom so it looks like he's getting a giant red boner every time it's hot outside. So many possibilities!
This is all well and good, but something is bothering me about the way a lot of these pre-orders are being handled. It boils down to this: Who is most likely to pre-order your record and even give a shit about the limited edition vinyl or boner thermometer? Your biggest fans, right? So it should follow that your biggest fans, who have given you their money before anybody else, should have the album before everybody else. This seems reasonable. So why is it that so many bands don't/won't/can't ship the record in order to get it to pre-order customers by street date? This just seems like a shitty way to repay the people who like you the most.
Think of it this way. Remember in pre-internet days when people would actually camp out in front of their local Ticketmaster location in order to get tickets to a show? These people, crazy as they may be, were obviously huge fans. So when the store employees showed up, should they've let those fans in the door first or last? It seems obvious, right? The same goes for the fans that pre-ordered your record: They were first in line.
Now, you may be thinking something like, "Well, we can't ship before street date because of laws!" or "The physical record wasn't ready to ship until the very last second!" Yes. This makes sense. But if you can't/won't ship the record so it arrives as close as possible to the actual release date, you owe it to your fans to provide a digital download code or at least an album stream so they can listen to the record they have already paid for. Because anything less and you're basically saying, "Thanks for liking us enough to camp out for our record. Now get in the back of the line." You might as well ship the record with a note that says, "Here's your order. Sorry your dumb friend who only knows one of our songs bought the CD at Target the day it came out and you're only now just getting it a week or so late. Also, fuck you."
Extras and bundles are awesome, but the whole point of your existence is the music. And you should be thanking your lucky stars that anybody gives enough of a shit about your songs to send you money in advance of hearing them. Because after being let down one too many times, you'll be lucky if they even bother to give you another dime.