Jack White’s single ‘Freedom at 21’ released via helium balloon
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Look! Up in the sky -- it’s … a new Jack White record? Yes, White chose April 1 to release a limited-edition single by helium balloon from his Third Man Records label headquarters in Nashville.
The track is “Freedom at 21” from White’s forthcoming debut solo album, “Blunderbuss,” due April 21. White and colleagues at Third Man filled 1,000 blue ballons approximately two feet in diameter with helium, attached flexi-discs and released them into the sky.
The stunt was described as “an experiment exploring nontraditional forms of record distribution and a way to get records in the hands of people who don’t visit record shops.”
White’s reps quickly pointed out that the balloons were made of biodegradable latex and were attached to the singles with natural twine, to ease concerns of eco-minded fans.
People who find the discs after the balloons burst or return to Earth are encouraged to report where and when they were found and to submit photos, so that White and the Third Man staff can document their travels by way of informational postcards also attached to the discs.
The typical recovery rate on similar balloon launches, according to Third Man, is around 10%, indicating that perhaps as few as 100 copies of the record will reach human hands.
An evolving map on Third Man’s website showed two reported discoveries so far in Flintville, Tenn., about 100 miles southeast of Nashville, and another in Huntsville, Ala., about 110 miles to the south. Here’s some video from the launch:
White has consistently cooked up unconventional recording, release and distribution campaigns since opening Third Man in 2009. He temporarily opened a Third Man pop-up store in downtown L.A. in 2009 when his band Dead Weather came through town on tour.
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-- Randy Lewis
Top photo: Third Man Records staffers prepare helium balloons for Jack White’s record launch. Credit: Jo McCaughey / Third Man Records.
Center photo: Jack White inflating one of 1,000 balloons carrying flexi-disc copies of his new single. Credit: Jo McCaughey / Third Man Records.