From the band that brought you "Flagpole Sitta" in the summer of '98 comes a bold statement of music (business) theory. Fed up with the music industry that gave them 13 seconds of fame with a hit single and then promptly cast them off as one-hit wonders, the band has decided to both sell their new album in independent music stores as well as give the complete album away for free on the internet.
The band explains why in a well-written "manifesto" on their website:
In preparing to self-release our new album, we thought long and hard about how best to use the internet. Given our unusual history, and a long-held sense that the practice now being demonized by the music biz as "illegal" file sharing can be a friend to the independent musician, we have decided to embrace the indisputable fact of music in the 21st century, put our money where our mouth is, and make our record, Little By Little, available for download via Bittorrent, and at our website. We’re not streaming, or offering 30-second song samples, or annoying you with digital rights management software; we’re putting up the whole record, for free, forever. Full stop. Please help yourself; if you like it, please share with friends.
Of course, the CD will also be for sale on the site, as well as in fine independent record stores across the country, in a deluxe package that includes a 30-minute bonus disc that serves as a companion piece to the record proper (retail price for the package is $11.99).
Whether or not people will buy something they can get for free is obviously a big question, and there are facts and figures to support both sides of the argument. We think it’s not only possible, but likely. The more fundamental challenge is ensuring people have access to your work to begin with.
At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, making records has never been about making money for this band. If the worst thing that happens is a whole bunch of people hear Little By Little and no one buys it, we’ll know our experiment was costly. But that won’t make it a failure.
Meanwhile, please enjoy the record. Everything else is secondary.
I hope the experiment goes well. After all, the band "discovered" Ben Gibbard and Death Cab, and became business partners with the venerable Barsuk records (which is Russian for "badger," btw!).
I hope it works out for them. Although, I have the strange hessitation in even downloading the album. A part of me feels that they came out with one catchy tune and then were left by the roadside. Now, they are reinventing themselves as an indie-rock band who gives out free music. Just so people don't think they such too much.
So, the album could be really yummy. But, people would would ask me what I was listening to and then I might cry.