Earlier this week, Thom Yorke sent fans into a frenzy when he tweeted a mysterious photo of a record. Today, we finally got something to sink our teeth into: His new solo album—the first in eight years—will be released exclusively via BitTorrent.
More specifically, the eight-song LP, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, will be distributed via BitTorrent Bundle, and is being touted as the first “paygated” torrent ever. In a statement from Yorke and longtime producer Nigel Goodrich, this BitTorrent approach is described as an “experiment,” much like Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want approach for In Rainbows:
If it works well, it could be an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to the 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 gatekeepers. 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.
To access Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, you have to be a BitTorrent client, and this announcement will no doubt get those unfamiliar with the site involved. BitTorrent’s trying to go mainstream, and Yorke could be just the mouthpiece it needs.
On BitTorrent’s blog, Chief Content Officer Matt Mason offers fans step-by-step instructions on how to download the album, which costs $6 after the paygate, with 90 percent of each purchase going directly to Yorke. “Every download is its own storefront,” Mason explained. “Which means every download increases in value, each time it’s shared.” BitTorrent is also offering a free download for “A Brain in a Bottle,” as well as the video for the track.
Mason added that this venture “is a project conceived of in conversation with, and collaboration with, fans. It is music and video and art. It is an experiment: the first paygated BitTorrent Bundle. And it is an alternative vision of how the creative Internet can work: for creators, for good.”
So far, the album’s seen more than 20,000 downloads. You can “unlock” the album here.
Screengrab via BitTorrent