If there's one thing we've learned from Lil Wayne, it's that shitting out songs on a regular basis -- that is, "more often than Robert Pollard" -- can turn your upcoming LP into a blockbuster, even though people suspect that they are totally tired of you. It's the new mechanics of creating an "event" album: You conjure an illusion of impending quality by drenching the market with so-so product beforehand. The free shit doesn't necessarily make people crave more free shit; it makes people wish you'd just put out the real fuckin' album already.
Onto the epiphany. Buddyhead's stoopid/superb remix of "If The World" got me thinking: For awhile, Chinese Democracy was an enigma. Then it was a joke. Now it's a relic of sorts: A colossal reminder of how awesomely ridiculous the record industry could be during the twilight of its heyday. But the album also is interesting because of the tortured, almost-inspired, half-batshit musical decisions that Axl obviously made. (As the Buddyhead guys point out: Smooth. Flamenco. Jazz. Sounds.) I still think it could be huge -- in the "selling lots of copies because people strangely feel obligated to own it" way that Wayne pulled with Carter III. But it's gonna take some tactical humility on Axl's part.
Here's the gameplan: Don't sweat the leaky leaky leaks. Don't worry about lawyers or labels or accountants or poolboys or any of that. In fact, methodically leak as much bullshit as you can: vocal tracks, alternate takes, bloopers, demos, studio banter, acoustic versions, whatever. Let people make parodies, remixes, videos, mashups and whatnot. Become the Joke That Won't Die. It's all about transparency: Show that you're not afraid of exposing every last filthy part of your decade-plus labor of love. Even if it sucks -- and it apparently kinda does -- people will be motivated to put that old-fashioned CD on their shelves, because they, like you, will think they've earned it, by golly. You will temporarily slide into society's embrace, and it will feel like magic.