Radiohead may know music–but they and their management do not know digital downloads. In trying to be artsy, buying In Rainbows was confusing and clunky. When it came time to download, they couldn’t handle the traffic. I found that particularly startling because a band with that kind of IT budget should have been able to get a decently distributed web server set up in 10 days.
Anyhow, three cheers for Saul Williams and his management for connecting with Musicane on the pre-order of his new album Niggy Tardust. (Yes, that is a racially charged album title. This guy has some pretty serious stuff to say to you.)
Musicane’s system for doing the pre-order was the slickest I’ve seen yet, offering a pre-order download of the 192kbps version for free or you could pay $5 and have access to 192kbps, 300kbps, or FLAC. I paid the $5 and it was worth it!
I received the notification email with the special link to download the new album this evening and once I arrived at the site it gave me an easy download of the FLAC which came to nearly 500 megs. Inside the Zip package was a folder with the album name on it, the album in FLAC, a cuesheet cue file to burn the disc, a playlist m3u file, a high res version of the album cover and a high-res version of the thirteen page booklet for the album in pdf!
Plus, I had all of the tunes in lossless. I fired up FLAC frontend and went to work getting the mp3’s into my library for my junky Zune.
Anyhow, I have to commend Saul Williams for hooking up with whoever coached him into this. Whoever put this digital download package together understands what music fans want and understands the technology through and through.
The difference is clear. Musicane and Saul Williams know the future of music. Radiohead’s management knows how to get a lot hype and deliver a crappy digital deliverable.
Sounds like Reznor might have been trying to test drive the idea, and coached Saul on it. There is a good article discussing it:
Saul: From the start, I remember Trent saying, “Let’s give it away for free.”