The Raconteurs are eschewing the standard months-long wait between finishing an album and releasing it with "Consolers of the Lonely," which will hit retail March 25 via Third Man/Warner Bros. The set wasn't even completed until the first week of March, according to a statement from the band.
"The purpose: to get the album to the fans as soon as possible and as we promised," the Jack White-featuring band says. "We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc, all at the EXACT SAME TIME so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding it's availability, reception or perception."
"Consolers" will be available on CD, vinyl and digital through leading retailers. "Some places couldn't move this fast, so they will join in as soon as they can," reads the statement, without elaboration.
The Raconteurs' Web site will offer the album as a complete download in 320kb fidelity. Individual tracks will be available at iTunes and Amazon.com. A video for the first single, "Salute Your Solution," will hit the Web on March 25.
The Raconteurs, which finds White surrounded by Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence, released their debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers," in May 2006. Their move here extends the experimentation of acts like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails in delivering music outside the parameters of the traditional label system
"We wanted to explore the idea of releasing an album everywhere at once and THEN marketing and promoting it thereafter," the band says. "The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by its first week sales, pre-release promotion or by someone defining it FOR YOU before you get to hear it."
The group will be on the road this spring, beginning April 20 in Vancouver, and will also play the Coachella and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals.
While many of the indie retailers Billboard spoke with praised the band's approach, some questioned whether the rush strategy was a way to skirt potentially negative reviews.
"Are they rushing it because they think it'll get murdered?" asked Jim McGuinn, owner of Walla Walla, Wash., indie store Hot Poop. "They have a good track record, but it could also just be a collection of leftovers. It's kind of like when bad movies are released without being screened for critics."
"I admire the band's attempt to keep it under wraps until the last minute and provide all formats at once," says Doyle Davis, co-owner Nashville's Grimey's. "We've been trying to get vinyl to street same day as CD as much as possible and I'm ecstatic over the fact that here's a release that doesn't go to iTunes a month before I get to sell it."
"Typically with a major-label set-up, the single is out a month or more at radio before we get anything to sell," says Carl Mello, head of purchasing at Newbury Comics. "All that time, people are coming in but we can't sell them anything because it's not out yet. Now, with the Raconteurs, they can hear the song on the radio, come in and its right there for purchase."