Published Mar 02, 2015Wu-Tang Clan's plan to sell their one-of-a-kind album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is still a go, but your chances of ever hearing it just got a little slimmer. The group have launched a new microsite for the sale through Paddle8, and it reveals a new stipulation: whoever buys the album won't actually own the copyright, and the buyer won't be allowed to release it commercially for 88 years.
The microsite is locked except to those who are members of Paddle8, but the splash page reveals that the album consists of 31 tracks, features nine band members and was made over the course of six years.
Forbes spoke with producer Cilvaringz, who explained, "After 88 years the copyright, which includes public and commercial rights, automatically transfers to the owner of the work. However, it will still be his or her choice at that [point] to release it or not release it."
This is a change from prior reports, which didn't stipulate any limitations on the purchase. The group apparently decided on a copyright period of 88 years because the number eight is special to them: it's the number of members in the group's original incarnation, it's the sum of the numbers in 2015, it's in the name of Paddle8, and it becomes an infinity logo when tipped sideways.
Wu-Tang had previously discussed sending the album out on tour to art spaces. Whether or not this takes place will be in the hands of the buyer. The buyer also has the option of sharing the music for free, but RZA said that this is unlikely to happen given how much money is at stake.
"When you buy a painting or a sculpture, you're buying that piece rather than the right to replicate it," RZA explained on the microsite. "Owning a Picasso doesn't mean you can sell prints or reproductions, but that you're the sole owner of a unique original. And that's what Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is. It's a unique original rather than a master copy of an album."
Backup copies of the album have apparently been destroyed. The only copy is in a vault in the Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech, Morocco. The buyer will get a 174-page leather-bound book with the liner notes.
The album is being sold via a private transaction, with Paddle8 employing a "price upon request" model. It remains to be seen what Once Upon a Time in Shaolin will be sold for, but previous reports suggested Wu-Tang had been offered $5 million for it.
On the other hand, the recent A Better Tomorrow is just $7.99 on iTunes, meaning that this new album is approximately 625,782 times more expensive.