Thom Yorke’s ‘New’ MusicModel Ticks Few of Tomorrow’s Boxes (for The Conversation)

Late last week, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke released his new solo album – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes – via BitTorrent, Inc’s “bundle” platform. Visitors to the service pay a US$6 fee, receiving the usual torrent descriptor file (much as one would on a torrent index site such as Pirate Bay) and proceed through to a downloadable bundle of eight MP3s, a music video, cover art and purchase links to the vinyl edition. To date, more than 300,000 users have either purchased the album or legally downloaded a free portion of it.

It is the paid component of the bundle that proves a potent detail here. So far, this fee-generating torrent file has been the central media hook found in reportage on the album, spreading news of Yorke’s work beyond music and entertainment journalism into the broader technology press.

In much the same way Radiohead’s 2007 album In Rainbows created a broad-reaching splash with its pay-what-you-want delivery download model – a model the band subsequently abandoned – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is an experiment only to the degree that all effective album promotion at this level is an experiment in unknowns.

Read the rest here.

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You Are Never Just A Musician

AKA I WANNA BE DIVERSIFIED

The successful pop star has her hand in a half dozen different media and a half dozen different genres. Take Chrisina, she sings, dances, co-writes. She does philanthropic work, acts in film, endorses brands. She is a public face for hire and designs jewellery. She is not equally gifted at all these things but she gets by and she moves with the times. She rides the trends.

The successful indie band has its hand in half a dozen different media and half a dozen different sub-genres. Take Sonic Youth, the big kahuna. They sing and flop around onstage. They write songs, appear in film (documentaries, Last Days), endorse guitars and coffee. They maintain music labels and fashion labels, solo careers and various curation projects. They experiment. They move with the times. From no-wave to classic rock to grunge to classical / experimental to reissuing everything.

The successful local band has its hand in a few media and usually one genre. Pick any band you know personally. They sing, they perform, they write songs, appear on Youtube, self-release their albums (or have a friend do it) and maintain their often unrelated, increasingly professional day jobs, for money. The good ones do more than that: they book shows, books tours, take photos, blog, write, record, document, broadcast, inspire and encourage. They don’t – as rule – change with the times. Instead, they break-up and reappear as a new band.

The motivations are different but the activity is comparable.

Everyone rocks a diverse deal these days.

And that’s why ‘diversify’ is such a buzzword in industry: It works.

The focused pure authentic musician who only plays music is something that dumb white guys made up. It’s a bogus history with no real foundation. Forget this history.

If you play music, the question isn’t whether to diversify.

The question is: How well are you already doing it?

On Death Grips, Endorsement and Story

This is a cut and paste from Pitchfork, with two identical alterations:

“As they hinted earlier tonight, Death Grips‘ new album NO LOVE DEEP WEB, their follow-up to The Money Store, is available to stream and download for free right now. On Twitter, the band said, “The shoe company wouldn’t confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB ’till next year sometime,'” followed by, “The shoe company will be hearing the album for the first time with you.”

Death Grips are great. They sound like someone feeding scrap metal into a tree mulcher.

(Exactly the sort of music I think people should be making.)

But their first major-label released album probably sold around 4,000 copies in its first week.

And the label have been legally giving away their work for free for months.

So they were never going to cross over with No Love Deep Web. They’re not being groomed for that.

For all intents and purposes, Death Grips are endorsed by Epic as much as signed to them.

And from this…

The label gets their cache of subcultural cool. This ‘controversy’ advertises them and legitimises them. It draws our attention. If someone asked me two weeks back if Epic were even still a functioning label, I would have shrugged. (You can’t turn over an MP3 and look at the label logo can you?) Now I’m writing about them on my blog.

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The band not doubt got themselves paid and got themselves promoted. But most importantly of all, they got themselves inside of a story worth reporting on. It’s everywhere. And as we’re watching the stream of tweets, updates and mentions on our social networks, we’re considering the music.

Who are this band?

Is this real?

What does this album sound like?

Maybe that upcoming tour might be worth seeing?

It’s about as much as anyone can do at the moment.

To be honest, I’m impressed.