Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has released second solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes via the BitTorrent filesharing service.
He says it’s another attempt to take control of creative work away from corporations. BitTorrent say it proves their platform isn’t all about piracy – and they hope it becomes the world’s biggest self-publishing platform.
Yorke announced the eight-track album yesterday, saying: “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 control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.
“Enabling those who make music, video or any other digital content to sell it themselves; bypassing the self-elected gatekeepers – if it works, anyone can do this exactly as we have done.”
The release came about after nearly a year of discussions with Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich. BitTorrent exec Matt Mason tells the Guardian: “We talked about BitTorrent: where the internet should be going for artists, where they saw the opportunities and problems today. One of those conversations got onto the idea of pay-gates in BitTorrent bundles. And Thom wanted to be the first.”
He says of the service and its 170 million users: “This is now the world’s first direct-to-fan publishing system that truly has a global audience. It’s the size of Spotify, Hulu and Netflix combined – and doubled.”
Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is available now for £3.68. Nearly 100,000 copies have been downloaded. Radiohead have just started work on their ninth studio album, with Yorke saying it included “going through 15 years of discarded words and pictures.”