Are you familar with Saul Williams? He’s a hip-hop poet/MC who released an amazing single a couple years ago called “List of Demands” (mp3). The album, Saul Williams, wasn’t 100% solid, but it contained at least one more great track, “Black Stacey.” His set at Lollapalooza 2005 was one of the highlights of my year. But we haven’t heard too much from him since then (other than an open letter to Oprah).
But now, with some production and promotion help from Trent Reznor, Williams will be releasing a new album himself. Directly to fans via the internet: The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! And fans get to choose whether they want to pay $5 or no bucks. Kinda like Radiohead. But better.
Find out how it’s better after the jump…
“There are obvious similarities in how Radiohead just released their new record and the way we’ve chosen to. After thinking about this way too much, I feel we’ve improved upon their idea in a few profound ways that benefit you, the consumer. You obviously will be the judge of this in the end. One thing that IS very different in our situation is that Saul’s not the household name (yet!) that Radiohead is, and that means we need your support on this more than ever. If you like what you hear, spread the word.”
The other significant way this is different is that you get to choose the quality of the files:
If you choose to pay for the record, your download will be available in the following formats:
• 192Kbps MP3
• 320Kbps MP3
• FLAC lossless audio
If you choose not to pay for the record, you will receive it in 192Kbps MP3 format.
All versions include a PDF with artwork and lyrics
All files are 100% DRM free, and can be played on any device. MP3s are encoded with LAME v3.97 and love.
This is a pretty big deal. This should go a long way to squashing the complaints from some Radiohead fans who expected to receive higher quality digital files than the 160kbps MP3s that they ended up with. Of course, it didn’t help matters when Radiohead manager Bryce Edge admitted that it was just a promotional stunt to boost regular old CD sales: “If we didn’t believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn’t do what we are doing. This is a solution for Radiohead, not for the industry.”
We’ll see how it plays out for Saul Williams. Of course, as more and more artists choose to release music like this, they’re going to get less and less coverage for it. Giving the customer what they want seems like a good plan though.
And while this is by no means indicative of a greater trend, I can state with absolute certainty that at least one music fan who opted to pay ₤0.00 for the Radiohead album was happy to pay $5.00 (PayPal!) for the 320kbps MP3 version of the Saul Williams album. And I can’t wait to hear it on November 1.
Saul Williams – “List Of Demands”
Saul Williams – “Black Stacey”