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On Friday, Thom Yorke dropped a surprise album called Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, available to purchase digitally through BitTorrent (also available on vinyl here). The eight-track album cost $6.00, and it was necessary to download a BitTorrent client in order to get the files. There was also the option to download the album’s first track “A Brain In A Bottle” and its video free of charge, which also required the BitTorrent client be downloaded.
In a statement shared alongside the album, Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich stated that distributing the album trough BitTorrent was, “an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around,” and suggested that this model could bypass “self-elected gatekeepers” by “enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves.”
So, can the general public get its heads around this system? Well, for a Thom Yorke album, they certainly can.
So, can the general public get its heads around this system? Well, for a Thom Yorke album, they certainly can, with the widget below showing that there have been over 250 000 downloads of Yorke’s music from BitTorrent since Friday. A rep from BitTorrent confirmed to us that the figure represents overall downloads, and that the breakdown between free downloads of “A Brain In A Bottle” and paid downloads of the whole album will only be disclosed at the artist’s discretion.
Regardless of this breakdown, the numbers will certainly be seen as a success by BitTorrent, while the backing from Yorke and co. has certainly started a conversation around BitTorrent distribution and whether it might be a viable model for other artists. It remains to be seen, however, if the model can work for artists without the cult following and level of visibility and fame that Thom Yorke enjoys.
Listen to “A Brain In A Bottle” below and purchase the album via BitTorrent. Here are 15 Other Thom Yorke Songs That You’ve Got to Hear.