Monday, September 29, 2014

Thom Yorke on the internets

It's lovely of Thom Yorke to to release a new record, but the format is a little odd.

Bittorrent bundles? That feels no less hipster-friendly embrace of a shall-we-say-specialised technology than Cassette Store Day.

This was supposed to be the year that BitTorrent Bundles went mainstream, but - although there's some interesting things going on there - the platform still feels very much like a small pool, albeit one that now has a killer whale languishing there. The Yorke album is probably the one chance Bundles has to break through and become a mass product, although there's two challenges here.

The first is whether enough people care about Yorke's solo work to go to the trouble of installing the software and getting past their nerves about things they may have heard about torrenting. It's not entirely clear that Yorke has that heft.

Secondly, even if people do embrace the idea of torrents-you-pay-for, it's going to always be a hard sell to the major labels, who might not unreasonably think that encouraging the take-up and normalisation of torrenting might encourage experimentation beyond the licenced part of the service. Viewed from Sony HQ, selling records through Bittorrent might seem a bit like suggesting that drug dealers also carry aspirin and Calpol - you can see the advantages, but the risks might outweigh them.