Thom Yorke has released his second studio album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, via the peer-to-peer file sharing software BitTorrent, available for purchase at a mere $6 a pop. Just before this eight-track album followup to York’s first solo, 2006’s The Eraser, was released, Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich released a statement together, saying, “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’.”
Between his two solo records, Yorke has also put out albums with his band Radiohead, as well as Amok with Atoms For Peace (an alt rock band comprised of Thom Yorke on vocals, guitar, keyboards and programming, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich doing production and programming, Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M. on drums, and Mauro Refosco of Forro in the Dark on auxiliary percussion). Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes tracklist includes “A Brain In A Bottle,” “Guess Again!,” “Interference,” “The Mother Lode,” “Truth Ray,” “There Is No Ice (For My Drink),” “Pink Section,” and “Nose Grows Some.”
The decision to use BitTorrent stems from the efficiency with which the peer-to-peer network shifts large files compared to a typical server downloading system. Yorke and Godrich went on, explaining, “It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around.” They hope to affect a change in how internet commerce is controlled and handled. “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,” their statement says.
Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is being offered as a BitTorrent Bundle. This format offers downloaders a free partial sample of the bundle’s content. For Yorke’s bundle, the sample includes a single and a video from Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. After receiving the sample, the downloader is invited to pay the $6 to unlock the rest of the bundle’s content. This absurdly reasonable price is attributed to the fact that Yorke maintains a large fan base and the fact that the cut BitTorrent takes from sales is 20% less than the cut Apple takes. “Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves,” Yorke and Godrich state. “Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers. If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done,” Yorke and Godrich conclude. Sample, purchase, and download Thom Yorke’s latest solo album here.