Monday, June 23rd, 2008...2:58 pm

One of Music’s Possible Futures

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Following up on my thoughts from Friday on Gene Simmons’, er, interesting views on the music industry, and via Rob Walker, comes news of the release of Feed the Animals, Girl Talk’s newest album and a possible model for the future of music distribution. Girl Talk, for the uninitiated, is a Pittsburgh DJ who constructs hyperkinetic mashups of everything from ultra-profane gangsta rap, ’70s corporate rock, indie guitar riffs, and pretty much anything else – often all at the same time, and rarely one sample lasting more than 20 seconds. Quite simply, it’s awesome stuff, and manages to make often-iconic pop standards sound at once nostalgic and familiar, and totally new and exciting.

For his latest album he has initiated a pay-what-thou-whilst scheme as follows:

any price grants the download of the entire album as high-quality 320kbps mp3s
$5 or more adds the options of FLAC files, plus a one-file seamless mix of the album
$10 or more includes all of the above + a packaged CD (when it becomes available)

Pretty clever stuff, and also interesting (as Rob notes) is what happens when you signal your intention not to pay for the album – it takes you to a landing page where you answer just why you’re not paying for the album, including the following options:

I have opted to pay $0.00 because:

I may donate later
I can’t afford to pay
I don’t really like Girl Talk
I don’t believe in paying for music
I have already purchased this album
I don’t value music made from sampling
I am part of the press, radio, or music industry
Other reasons

This is an exciting approach, and hopefully Girl Talk will share the results when there’s good data that comes in – as opposed to Simmons, he’s not sitting around waiting for the music industry to figure out a way for him to get paid, he’s trying out ways to get his music out there and see what people will pay for it. But mostly, this is exciting (to me) because it’s a new Girl Talk album, and as such is super-excellent. Go get it, and pay what you will.

Jacob Kramer-Duffield

1 Comment

  • I was going to bring this up to the Berkman interns! I find it a fascinating experiment, and I also wish to see his statistics. I should really follow through with my “I may donate later.” Hopefully by seeing him live. Which, unless he has changed since Fall 2006 when I saw him at Brandeis where my band opened up for him, consists of him just dancing around to his must be pre-mixed mash-up beats. Regardless, Girl Talk’s new album is definitely the best $00.00 I ever spent.