Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has released a new LP, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, and yet again he’s challenging norms of the music industry. In a press release, Yorke and longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich explained, “As an experiment we are using a new version of BitTorrent to distribute a new Thom Yorke record” as a method of “bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.”
Yorke and Godrich’s statement included some details about the BitTorrent technology:
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.
The announcement comes after a week of Yorke-related speculation, fueled by tweets of mysterious white records and news that Radiohead was back in the studio. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes will be Yorke’s first new music since 2013’s AMOK, by his Flea-featuring supergroup Atoms for Peace. Radiohead hasn’t put out a new record since 2011’s The King of Limbs.
Yorke’s BitTorrent experiment is just his latest attempt to reclaim some independence for musicians. In 2007, Radiohead famously released In Rainbows on the Internet with a pay-what-you-want scheme—which for many translated to a free record. Last year, Yorke pulled AMOK, as well as his only solo album, 2006’s The Eraser, from Spotify. “The reason is that new artists get paid f–k all with this model,” Atoms for Peace said in explanation. “It’s an equation that just doesn’t work.”
Get your digital hands on Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes for $6 here.