Friday, October 26, 2007

Saul Williams Pre-order

Saul Williams is possibly the most powerful live performer I have ever seen. He can absolutely overtake an audience. I last saw Saul a few years ago opening for The Mars Volta at an insanely packed outside show at Emo's. It appeared from the chatter amongst the crowd that not many had heard of him before, and most seemed surprised that a single man came out on stage and not a full band. The surprise got rocketed up a bit when it became apparent that Saul was just going to recite some of his poetry, but that surprise quickly faded to awe struck, jaw on the floor amazement as soon as Saul opened his mouth and started firing verbal bullets around the room. He destroyed what was probably the largest gathering of jaded hipsters the city could offer that particular night and after he left the stage, to a riotous applause from an audience that had surely just been won over, the line at the merch stand to buy his poetry book Said the Shotgun to the Head was impressive. Saul has a new album coming out soon called The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust (produced by Trent Reznor) and Saul has decided to take the Radiohead approach and release his album digitally. Saul is improving the process a bit though, as he is offering the downloader their choice of digital formats, all of them completely DRM-free. You have a couple of options when it comes to buying this album. The first is to download it for free, at 192kbps, and the second is to pay a $5 donation which allows you to download at either 320kbps or in FLAC form (which is a lossless format). I'm expecting to see a lot of bands doing this in the near future. I think it's a good system, but it definitely has its limitations. For one, not all record labels are the tools of the devil, and a lot of the better independent ones do actually work really hard to promote their artists and if this system completely catches on it's going to hurt them a lot in the long run as well as limiting the number of records a person can sell. On the other hand, this puts the power right back into the consumers hands in every way. With the drop in price of excellent quality home recording options, almost anyone can make a great sounding record for a fraction of the cost, and this method allows the savings to be passed on to the consumer while allowing the artist to receive 100% of the profits. It's going to be really interesting to see how this works out in the long run. A band like Radiohead can pull this off, because everyone knows who Radiohead is, and it can work for someone like Saul Williams, because his audience is exactly the market that downloads music, reads music blogs, and generally keeps themselves informed about the bands and artists they like anyway. This is a fascinating time to be involved in the music industry, either from the corporate or consumer side of things, and I can't wait to see how this all turns out.

Preorder The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust here.


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