Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has been teasing a new solo album in cryptic tweets all week, and now we finally have an official announcement from the man himself. It’s worth getting excited over.
That solo album is available for purchase right now via BitTorrent, becoming the first-ever paygated torrent in history.
“Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” is a follow-up to Yorke’s 2006 solo debut “The Eraser” and the first new material from the Radiohead frontman since the release of Atoms For Peace’s album “Amok” in February 2013.
In a letter co-authored by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Yorke explains why he chose this unprecedented release strategy:
“As an experiment we are using a new version of BitTorrent to distribute a new Thom Yorke record.
The new Torrent files have a pay gate to access a bundle of files.
The files can be anything, but in this case is an ‘album’.
It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around …
If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.
Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves.
Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.
If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done.
The torrent mechanism does not require any server uploading or hosting costs or ‘cloud’ malarkey.
It’s a self-contained embeddable shop front …
The network not only carries the traffic, it also hosts the file. The file is in the network.
Oh yes and it’s called
Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes.
Thom Yorke & Nigel Godrich”
The full album costs $US6.00, but BitTorrent users can obtain the audio and video of the album’s first track “Brain in a Bottle” for free.
Radiohead broke ground in 2007 and took the industry by surprise by releasing “In Rainbows” with a “choose your own price” model, inspiring music websites like Bandcamp and other outlets to adopt the technique. In 2011, they announced “The King of Limbs” at only a week’s notice and released it as the world’s first “newspaper album.” It’s no surprise that the release of “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” continues this ambitious trend.
This could be a huge step forward for BitTorrent, as the service is primarily used for sharing pirated music illegally. According to a press release:
“this partnership marks the launch of the BitTorrent Bundle with paygates, which allows artists to monetise their Bundle content directly. Fans can download the album here and pay using a credit card or PayPal in 140 currencies. The publisher covers the transaction fees and BitTorrent takes 10% after that.”