Tool’s $45 CD Draws Huge Crowds at Indie Record Stores — With Lines Out the Door at Multiple Locations

Tool’s $45 record is set to out-chart Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey.

Tool’s first album in 13 years, Fear Inoculum, has made a major splash at independent music stores.  Mobs of Tool fans lined up for the record’s midnight launch, and countless others appeared during the following days, clearing many establishments’ inventories.

Most impressive of all is the album’s considerable sales price: $45. This includes an art book, a high-definition screen, and a pair of speakers.

Per a statement released by the Executive Director of the Coalition of Independent Record Stores, Michael Bunnell, Fear Inoculum “was the biggest thing to hit retail in years.”  Bunnell went on to say that the album’s remarkable success should serve as reminder that the retail industry is alive and well; artists and manufacturers need only produce quality content and aesthetically pleasing packaging, respectively, to reap the profits.

“Several stores had well-attended midnight sales on Thursday (it was my store’s first midnight sale in 10 years),” Bunnell shared.  “When we returned to work on Friday morning, there were lines at the door. We had to shut down online sales because we feared we couldn’t supply our local customers with a new release that was literally flying out the door.”

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tool’s latest effort is threatening to dominate the album charts.  Fear Inoculum is expected to surpass Lana Del Rey’s Norman F—— Rockwell and Taylor Swift’s Lover in sales, thanks largely to heavy physical purchases.

Record-setting, chart-topping, and highly profitable sales would be extremely impressive from any band that’s not released an album in over a decade, and this commercial success is a testament to the connection that Tool has with their fans.

The four-piece rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1990. Personal differences and creative struggles delayed Fear Inoculum’s completion for over a decade, but this setback doesn’t seem to have negatively affected quality; in addition to reaching the top of the charts, the work has received positive reviews from fans and critics.

Sales were undoubtedly benefited by Tool’s decision to make their music available via streaming platforms.  Tool bandmembers had long refused to sign a digital agreement, owing to what they deemed unfavorable terms, but their discography hit major streaming services on August 2nd.

It’ll be difficult for other bands to match the scope of Tool’s recent success.  However, that doesn’t mean the business model cannot be mimicked; perhaps well-packaged, higher-priced physical albums can reemerge as a major source of profits, with a bit of tweaking and creativity.

Here’s Michael’s full statement.

A funny thing happened last week with the new Tool album: indie retail had an old-school moment.

Several stores had well-attended midnight sales on Thursday (it was my store’s first midnight sale in 10 years). When we returned to work on Friday morning, there were lines at the door. We had to shut down online sales because we feared we couldn’t supply our local customers with a new release that was literally flying out the door. The sales from this one release dramatically changed our CD sales numbers for the month of August.. We scrambled to get product from all sources, and we were still under-supplied by at least a hundred copies, maybe more. And all this for a $45 CD.

Yes, the Tool release was the biggest thing to hit retail in years. And the whole experience spoke volumes about the fact that the buying public still has uber-fans who will rush to pay their hard-earned money for an artist they believe in and care about. Physical retail still matters, and if the content is good and the packaging is carefully considered, anything can happen.

Now, how do we get that word out to artists and managers who for some unknown reason have abandoned the physical art form?


Michael Bunnell
Executive Director
Coalition of Independent Music Stores

4 Responses

  1. Lisa

    I don’t know the band or the album, but here are 3 points to consider:

    1) “$45 album” – It seems to contain an art book, HD screen and speakers. Probably just made their money back.
    2) First album in 13 years – another reason for fands lining up.
    3) Uber-fans probably would have paid any price anyway.

    Just saying this model can’t be easily emulated, at least when you don’t already have a name.

  2. Johnny

    Most music fans have stopped paying for music and musicians are expected to ‘work for free’ which is not much of an incentive to provide quality music in this new era of Youtube and Spotify paying the musicians next to nothing! And only 12% of revenues goes to the artists which means most bands lose money making new music

  3. Griff

    It could be that physical record sales like the CD are not dead because of lack of music lovers willing to buy. Here’s a scenario that I saw take place. Local record stores, even the behemoth, Tower Records in CA are gone because, of physical sales in places like Walmart sucked the record sales away from them. Then, came streaming, and Walmart and even Barnes and Noble (small section compared to a few years ago) dried the market up. However, people that won’t pay for streaming may (I said May) not pay physical recordings either. They are cheap or just not effluent enough to buy.

    But, music lovers now have to wait longer to hear their favorite artists on a stream than was common on radio stations not that long ago. What all this adds up to is control. What may ( I said may…) bring back physical music sales is having to wait long hours just for your favorite artists (let alone their favorite song) to show up on the stream. Answer: buy physical products like the old days. I see this as a probability but as a balance. That balance will be who will pay for streaming and who will pay for physical recordings. There should be room for both, but only time will tell.

  4. Logic Beauregard

    U cant be making a whole lot of loot on a package that costs $45 and includes sneakers. Hope they atleast enjoy beating crappy swift tho.