Guns N' Roses fans have waited 17
years for a new album, but technology has not. In October, Universal Music was rumored to be hunting for an interactive agency to market Chinese Democracy
, due out this month (and they
really, really mean it this time). Around the same time, fan sites lit up with the news that Best Buy was taking pre-orders online. And this summer, a blogger was arrested on suspicion of posting nine
unreleased tracks (nine! almost the whole album!) online.
It's slightly scandalous that any record would take this long to produce. Some will say it wasn't worth the wait. But its
mysterious history now seems made for the Internet, the global engine of rumor, hyper-fandom and grassroots promotion. Plus, the album waited out what may have been the hardest stage of transition for
the music industry. iTunes and Amazon now have deals with MySpace and YouTube. Research suggests that today's illegal downloaders spend almost the same chunk of their music budget on recorded
music as those who pay for downloads.
When GNR last released a studio album, it was 1991. Today's 35-year-olds were high school seniors. Britney Spears was 9. Napster was still eight
years away. When GNR started recording Chinese Democracy
, in 1994, a Time
cover story included a definition of the Internet: "the world's largest computer network." But
this month, maybe, you can open a gratis Dr Pepper and watch as the story of Democracy
plays out, post-revolution.