Saul Williams Update: The Numbers

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!We previously posted about how Saul Williams and Trent Reznor were collaborating on a project that was one-upping Radiohead. As a fan of Saul Williams, I had been excited about this idea, happily paid $5, and downloaded the 320kbps MP3 version of the album.

A couple months having passed, Reznor now offers up some Saul Williams follow-up and facts:

As of 1/2/08,
154,449 people chose to download Saul’s new record.
28,322 of those people chose to pay $5 for it, meaning:
18.3% chose to pay. […]

If 33,897 people went out and bought Saul’s last record 3 years ago (when more people bought CDs) and over 150K – five times as many – sought out this new record, that’s great – right?

I have to assume the people knowing about this project must either be primarily Saul or NIN fans, as there was very little media coverage outside our direct influence. If that assumption is correct – that most of the people that chose to download Saul’s record came from his or my own fan-base – is it good news that less than one in five feel it was worth $5? I’m not sure what I was expecting but that percentage – primarily from fans – seems disheartening.

Little media coverage? Oh really?

My theory is that a lot of people heard about the album on the internet, and gave it a chance. Maybe they liked it, maybe they didn’t. Personally, I don’t think it’s as engaging as Saul’s last album, Saul Williams. There’s certainly nothing on NiggyTardust as immediate as “List of Demands” (mp3) or as captivating as “Black Stacey.” So maybe it didn’t catch on because it’s not that catchy…

Still, $141,610.00 is better than a hard kick in the nuts with a frozen boot, right? I wonder what kind of an advance Williams was being offered by labels. And how much of that NiggyTardust money, if any, Williams will actually pocket after Reznor pays off the bills for “utilizing an A-list team and studio, Musicane fees, an old publishing deal, sample clearance fees, paying to give the record away (bandwidth costs),” etc. My guess: not much.

Interesting information nonetheless. Definitely enlightening.

Saul Williams spoken word tour dates:

Jan 19 – Brandeis University Waltham, Massachusetts

Jan 23 – University of Wyoming Laramie, Wyoming

Feb 1 – Babson College Babson Park, Massachusetts

Feb 6 – UC Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, California

Feb 15 – Pacific Lutheran University Tacoma, Washington

Feb 19 – Illinois State University Normal, Illinois

Feb 23 – University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado

Feb 25 – Cargo London, London and South East

Mar 27 – Chandler Gilbert Community College Phoenix, Arizona

Mar 28 – Estrella Mountain Community College Phoenix, Arizona

MP3: Saul Williams – “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (U2 cover, courtesy of AOL)

5 thoughts on “Saul Williams Update: The Numbers”

  1. $141,610 better than a kick in the nuts? You’re not kidding, man. Unless there are costs for the record we’re not hearing about, and/or Willaims has people on a payroll, my uneducated guess is that this sum, for a solo artist like Williams, is still comparable to the earnings of any well-known indie (give or take a song sold for commercial use).

    Where it may not be so great is if he is using this $$$ for some sort of tour support. That would probably deplete the kitty considerably, unless the road gigs make up for the expense. Does that sound right?

  2. Oh…”utilizing an A-list team and studio, Musician fees, an old publishing deal, sample clearance fees, paying to give the record away (bandwidth costs),” etc

    OK, not so much…but then again who the fuck is Saul Williams, I guess.

    I guess the trick of being an independent recording artist these days is finding the economy of scale that fits you. And in other news, the sky is blue, winter is cold in Chicago….

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