The claim of "rarity" recordings has always been dubious, but the status is verifiable when it comes to The Golden Record, of which there are just two copies. The gold-plated copper platters of Carl Sagan-curated sounds are currently billions and billions of kilometres away from Earth on a pair of Voyager spacecraft, out of reach even to Commander Chris Hadfield or Gravity actress Sandra Bullock.
So, two copies – can't touch that when it comes to scarcity, right? Wrong. Last week, Forbes reported that the hip-hop clan Wu-Tang will release a one-of-a-kind double album, The Wu – Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
"We're about to sell an album like nobody else sold it before," the Wu's Robert (RZA) Diggs told Forbes.
In a world where music is seen as free and transferable, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, to be housed in a radiant silver-and-nickel box, would be akin to an original piece of art. The plan is for it to tour museums (where people would pay to hear it) and then go to auction. It is novel way of monetizing music. Instead of major record labels releasing rarities "from the vault," Wu-Tang is putting true rare music back into the vault.