Following in the footsteps of Radiohead’s ‘Pay as you please’ scheme for In Rainbows, two other major artists have released new, free-to-download albums.
Manchester indie veterans The Charlatans have made their new album, You Cross My Path, free to download through radio station XFM’s website. This is prior to a CD release in May, and would appear to be a move to support their UK tour in the same month. Fans are also being offered the chance to buy a Deluxe CD and ticket bundle.
Also free to download is the first part of Nine Inch Nails‘ experimental, instrumental album, Ghosts I – IV. This obviously serves to sell the 36-track work in its entirety, which is available in several formats. These work in a tiered way, which gives an option for people with varying degrees of interest in the work.
- Free, 9-track download of Ghosts I
- $5, 36-track download of Ghosts I – IV
- $10, 2 CD, Digipak with 16-page booklet. This is released in April, but comes with an immediate download à la Radiohead.
- $75, 2 CD, 1 DVD with audio in multi-track format for remixing, 1 Blu-Ray with high-definition audio, in a fabric hardcover slip case
- $300, ‘Ultra-deluxe limited edition package’ (the site doesn’t specifically mention what’s in this)
The Charlatans approach is going to be quite common, with bands releasing free music to encourage people along to their gigs. To the contrary, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor is looking to promote sales of his new album with a ‘try before you buy’ approach.
Also of note is the tiered release strategy. Those with a little interest in Nine Inch Nails or Ghosts I – IV can sample the free downloads. Those who would have already given some consideration to a purchase (or perhaps grabbing it via BitTorrent) will probably feel that $5 for the download is easily worth it. $10 is a bargain price for those who like their music on a physical format, while the $75 and even $300 packages (the latter of which has sold out!) will really appeal to die-hard fans and those with an eye for something special.
These are two artists with different musical styles and different approaches to the changing music market. The both have the same agenda, though — to bypass record labels and get their music out to their loyal fans, and hopefully win over some new ones, too.