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Monday, April 2, 2012

Jack White's Third Man Records Throws 1,000 Perfectly Decent Records Away Via Balloon

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 9:49 AM

click to enlarge JO MCCAUGHEY
  • Jo McCaughey

In what was most assuredly not an April Fool's joke, stunt, or prank, the folks at Jack White's Third Man Records yesterday attached 1,000 records to 1,000 large blue helium balloons and sent them off into the sky to be lost forever (except to a fanatic bunch of fools who will pay insane amounts of money for them from now until the end of time.)

The record was a clear 45 RPM "flexi-disc" of White's song "Forever 21." And most of the environmentally friendly balloon-and-record bundles will never be recovered, a fact readily acknowledged in the accompanying publicity verbiage:

Accompanying the balloons were custom postcards with instructions for the finders to submit photos, discovery location and the date on which the record was found, all of which will be incorporated into a website where fans can access the information at


Statistics for similar balloon launches show a recovery rate of approximately 10 percent, so it's quite possible that less than 100 of the 1,000 records launched will ever be discovered. Whatever the numbers, the "Freedom at 21" flexi-disc will surely be a highly sought-after collectible for years to come.

Are you perplexed by this action? Let us explain:

1. Cheap publicity, yay!

2. "Out now on helium balloon" is the kind of phrase that gives record collectors a boner the size of the Goodyear blimp -- and makes bloggers giggle.

3. It's Record Store Day on April 21, and Jack White has a new solo album, Blunderbuss, coming out April 24. (See No. 1.)

4. Action deemed somewhat more accessible than making a record that plays at 3 RPM.

5. Because "exploring non-traditional forms of record distribution" sounds better than "we knew it would get your attention." (See No. 1.)

And yet -- and yet! We still find ourselves wishing we had one of these flying (floating?) discs.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ian S. Port @iPORT, and like us at

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