How to sell your next recording: Slip it in a Justin Bieber album and sell it at Wal-Mart


In this image an album that appears to be Justin Bieber’s “Believe” sits on the rack at the Best Buy in Culver City, Calif. Paz, whose full name is Paz Dylan, a 25-year-old electronic musician and artist, said he planted 5,000 copies of an album that appears to be Bieber’s “Believe” but that actually contains a copy of his own CD in retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target on April Fool’s Day. (AP Photo/Derrik J. Lang)

Talk about a bait-and-switch.

A Los Angeles musician came up with a creative, if somewhat dishonest, way to get his music into unsuspecting ears.

Paz Dylan, an EDM artist, created a batch of fake Justin Bieber “Believe” CDs — essentially very good counterfeits that bear Bieber’s album artwork but actually house Dylan’s music on the discs. Consumers don’t know until after they’ve bought the CD that what they thought was a Bieber actually wasn’t.

It’s quite the stunt: 5,000 records circulating in the few stores that still bother to sell CDs — namely Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target — bear Bieber’s likeness and Paz’s music.

We’ll know soon enough if it’s more effective than peddling your mixtape from the trunk of your car or shipping your record to sit on the slush piles of the country’s A&R divisions. If nothing else, people are talking about Dylan’s trickery. He distributed his copies April 1, as part of an April Fools prank he called “droplifting.”

Dylan alerted his fans with a post to his Facebook page the afternoon of April 1 entitled “Every Justin Bieber CD in Los Angeles is Missing.”

The Associated Press went on an independent buying spree in California to verify Dylan’s story, and it checked out. They were able to buy the fake albums, which rang up normally, barcode and all, and take them out of the store, same as the regular CD. Dylan likened it to performance art; the ruse ends when you open the packaging. The inside sports Dylan’s own album artwork, and the disc itself is covered with pizzas, cats, and a doge in a taco. He also said he included two subtle differences in the cover art so buyers could spot the fake.

“Retail stores could be the most powerful outlets for the spread of independent art, but instead they’ve saturated themselves with commercially filtered noise,” Dylan said in the Facebook post. “So we turned stores like Best Buy and Walmart into artistic canvases by droplifting our art directly into the hands of consumers. If retailers make it impossible for unsigned artists to get into big box stores, we’ll just force our way in.”

As for Bieber, Dylan told the Associated Press he made an obvious mark: “The world won’t really miss a Justin Bieber record.” And as for any legal consequences? “I think legal repercussions are always a possibility when you do performance pieces,”Dylan said. “Sometimes you have to take risks for your art.”

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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