Last month Radiohead broke the industry mold when they decided to delay signing with a major label for their latest album “In Rainbows.” Instead they released it on their website: pay what you like or take it for nothing. The physical CD will be available in a deluxe package at a later date. Given the current music climate, the thinking was they could deal directly with their fans and make more money by relying on their fan’s goodwill.
Thus far they have exceeded a million downloads. No word on how many paid or what they paid, but the idea was quickly adopted by Nine Inch Nails, and Madonna recently signed an alternative arrangement with Live Nation. In the midst of a click finger society, the music industry is changing, new marketing and distribution methods have to be worked out.
For established artists, offering high-quality, drm-free mp3 albums could be a legitimate way to continue making a living doing what they do. People are aware of who they are, know what name to type in a search engine, etc. For underground artists it’s a little more challenging, how many people are going to search out X rapper/singer from West Bubblefuck, Anywhere USA?
But what about if you’ve got your head just above the surface?
Enter poet Saul Williams: he’s decided to release his new album “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggytardust” on his website for 5 bucks or absolutely nothing. Your choice.
He was encouraged to make the move by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who he collaborates with on the album.
This isn’t only about money. It’s potentially the way towards artistic freedom. An album by a poet with a message and an industrial rocker isn’t going to get much attention from the marketing department at a major label. Where’s the hook? Got a dance to go with it? The kids won’t buy it. And there’s that title, “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggytardust.”
Feel what you may: Nas naming his album “Nigger” is a surface level move that some people just can’t see themselves getting past to the deeper observations that the album will have. For sure at this stage in his career, Nas isn’t about to take a drunken stumble through ignorant park.
Making that point even clearer is Saul Williams making the play on words to imply the word nigger.
The way he sees it..
“I’ve thought long and hard about all the discussion surrounding racial epithets etc. and chose this title as a means of furthering the dialogue while also showing how creativity will outlive and outshine hatred of any kind.
The Niggytardust concept sets me free to do more on stage with costume, etc. than one might expect from a regular Saul Williams show. It allows me to put my theatre training to use.”
He also talks about the Trent Raznor connection
“I met Trent when he asked me to fill the opening slot of his European With Teeth tour. After only the 2nd show he asked if I might be down to collaborate on a song or album, whatever I saw fit. At the time we were both listening to the Kanye/Jon Brion collaborations and feeling like a cocktail of our two worlds would fare even more interesting…and harder.
Since then, Trent Reznor has become the big brother I never had, offering his insight, expertise, and shared desire to fuck up the system while believing fully in the power of music and the intelligence of the masses.”
Best believe, anyone promoting an album where they talk about appealing to the intelligence of the masses needs to experiment with this new way of being.
Check it out at - NiggyTardust.com