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Outspoken Group Releases Album as Free Download 457

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the please-continue-the-trend dept.
SirNuke writes "Harvey Danger, a Seattle based rock band, has released their newest album Little by little for free mp3 download. They are doing this partially as an Internet publicity experiment, and partially as a stand against the Music Industry's attack on filesharing. From their website, 'In preparing to self-release our new album, we thought long and hard about how best to use the internet. Given our unusual history, and a long-held sense that the practice now being demonized by the music biz as "illegal" file sharing can be a friend to the independent musician, we have decided to embrace the indisputable fact of music in the 21st century, put our money where our mouth is, and make our record, Little By Little..., available for download via Bittorrent, and at our website. We're not streaming, or offering 30-second song samples, or annoying you with digital rights management software; we're putting up the whole record, for free, forever. Full stop. Please help yourself; if you like it, please share with friends.' I suggest you check it out."
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Outspoken Group Releases Album as Free Download

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  • jeff cliff (Score:5, Informative)

    by schnits0r (633893) * <nathannd@sa[ ]el.net ['skt' in gap]> on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:05AM (#13701996) Homepage Journal
    That is nothing, artists have been doing that for awhile now. Jeff Cliff [stumbleupon.com] a semi local musician has offered [uregina.ca] his music for download freely in mp3 and ogg vorbis for at least 5 years now.
    • Re:jeff cliff (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:10AM (#13702013)
      nobody has ever heard of Jeff Cliff but you. Harvey Danger has gold albums and has had their tracks on movie soundtracks. Don't be a clown and state the obvious.
  • by doxology (636469) <cozzydNO@SPAMmit.edu> on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:05AM (#13701997) Homepage
    Who needs the RIAA when you have Slashdot for publicity?
  • Decent band (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    All I wish was that they were a decent band!
    • I disagree. From the start of the first song I got a good feeling. They're rather good so far and I think they can get plenty of fans.
    • I live in Seattle and have never heard of these guys, but I'll be at their next show.

      I'm a few songs into the album and really liking it.

      There's not that much difference between selling an album for $10 and giving it away for free actually.

      Think of a record label as a marketing company. The $10 that someone pays for an album is eaten up by the investment the marketing company made to sell the album in the first place, so giving it away for free means no (or very little) marketing money needing to b
  • by popo (107611) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:08AM (#13702006) Homepage
    ...Does that mean we're going to have 100,000 very similar slashdot postings now?

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Except... wait! There *is* a story here: Slashdot Editors have finally been surpassed by a room full of chimps!
    • by The-Bus (138060) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:31PM (#13705097)
      The exception is that Harvey Danger is one of the bigger bands to do something like this. They had a pretty big hit called "Flagpole Sitta" I'd say some 5 or 6 years ago, and they came sort of at the tail end of the radio-rock 90's one hit wonders. Think of Eve 6, Semisonic ("Closing Time"), Fastball ("The Way"), or The Verve Pipe ("Freshman") doing something like this. Yeah, it's not the Rolling Stones or Madonna or Coldplay, but they were a very big band six years ago. Harvey Danger's debut CD, gold-selling Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? came out in 1999 and is now roughly #19,000 in sales at Amazon.com (roughly matching similar albums that came out that time).

      Sorry, I know I sounded like a weird PR spokesperson, but the band is not a bunch of unknowns. I wanted to make that sort of clear.

      I'm interested to see where their sales will go. It looks like this band broke-up a couple of years ago and is now having another go at it without using any majors. I wish them the best, and if I like the album and they play a show around here, I will probably go see them.
  • Son of a bitch! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:10AM (#13702011)
    This is probably the most positive use of the Slashdot effect I've ever encountered: how to build a torrent in seconds. I'm at 4 mbit/sec and my pipe is maxed out. Hot damn!
    • Easy to Contribute (Score:3, Informative)

      by Famatra (669740)
      "I'm at 4 mbit/sec and my pipe is maxed out. Hot damn!"

      And it's easy to contribute just by leaving your torrent on to upload for others. Even if you didn't like the album you can show your support for artists (and tweek the nose of the RIAA) who support free(dom) content by acting as seeders for the file.
  • by JediLow (831100) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:11AM (#13702016)
    Recording a CD: $2000 Ripping your CD: $0 Saying 'Screw you' to the RIAA's business model and getting Slashdotted for publicity: Priceless
    • They had me at download. I'm buying the album as a "thank you." It's actually pretty damn good. Sort of Sparks meets '90s indie pop, with a little XTC thrown in for spice.

      You can also say "fsck you, RIAA" here: http://www.richiehass.com/ [richiehass.com]. No full album up yet, but there's four Richie tunes to get you going. Share and enjoy.
  • How is this novel? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by putko (753330) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:13AM (#13702021) Homepage Journal
    E.g. Landline [landline.nu] has all there music available for download -- not just a single album, and there's no DRM or other bullshit.

    Is it novel and exciting because they also have a record deal? I thought a lot of industry-hating musicians would just refuse record deals on principle.
  • by brain_not_ticking (722737) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:17AM (#13702032)
  • by Dwonis (52652) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:19AM (#13702043)
    Here's the Ogg Vorbis torrent [harveydanger.com].
    • I saw the OGG torrent (and kudos to Harvey Danger for making a release in OGG format). The only thing holding me back from using OGG instead of MP3 exclusively is the fact that I can't play OGGs on my iPod shuffle. :( In fact, are there *any* portable music players out there that support OGG? God knows there should be!
  • Clap Clap Clap (Score:5, Informative)

    by gflores (728935) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:19AM (#13702045)
    For those who haven't heard of Harvey Danger, they're a mid-90s rock band and their hit song was "Flagpole Sitta". I applaude them for doing this, because they're not exactly a no-name band.
  • by Sugar Moose (686011) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:19AM (#13702046) Journal
    To better understand why an artist would do this, I figured some people would like to know the actual financial breakdown of the music industry. I have several very good friends in the music industry, one is the publicist for several major artists, so here's the skinny:

    For a standard artist (not yet established), out of every CD sold they receive about $0.20. For you non-math whizzes, that means when their album turns platinum (1 million copies sold), they bank $200,000. Seem low? It is, but we'll get to that.

    For an established artist, there are 2 possibilities. The first is that they have their own label. If this is the case, they will still use one of the major labels for distribution, and they have to pay all those little people that made things happen, but they're pocketing more cash. The second possibility is that the record company convinced them to stay by offering a MUCH better contract, which ends up being about as much as having their own label minus the hassle.

    But this still isn't a big portion of their income. That comes from several other sources.

    ASCAP is The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. They dictate who can play your music, such as music at a bar or in a restaurant. They have a virtual monopoly on all genres of music (out of 100 established artists, maybe 1 or 2 are not signed with ASCAP), they are expensive, and they are about as well liked by the people that know them as the RIAA is here. Tactics include sending in "undercover agents" to places not paying ASCAP, and writing down the inevidable songs that they play. Then comes an agent, who will "aggressively suggest" that you pay up to ASCAP or be sued out of business. They've actually had people call the cops on them thinking it was a mafia shakedown. Oh, and they've never lost in court.

    There's some issue over how much of that cash actually makes it to the artists, but rest assured it's much more than they're getting from their label for album sales.

    Licensing of music is stepping up into a bigger payscale. This mostly refers to commercials, movies, and now video games. Obviously the pay scale varies widely based on the popularity of the artist and of the specific song, but there are virtually no costs for the artist.

    Touring is where the money is really at. To give you an idea of how much, you need to understand what a "floor" is. This refers to the minimum amount an artist is willing to make in a performance. Let's take Britney Spears for example. Her "floor" is (or was, it constantly changes) $750,000. What this means is that if the show only makes $500,000, she still gets paid $750,000, and the organizers eat a loss of $250,000 plus production costs. Also keep in mind that organizers know what they're doing, and shows hardly ever hit the floor. So you can assume for her last tour, Britney pocketed $1+ million for each of the 37 shows on her last tour.

    And that's just at the gate. Don't forget to buy your T-shirt, or poster, or anything else "Britney" that cost a dollar to make and $8/hr for some schmuck to sell it to you. All of that money goes straight back to her.

    For the really big artists, you can cap it off with an endorsement or two. Britney's Pepsi endorsement deal was reportedly $10+ million.

    Substatial evidence that music sharing doesn't effect album sales aside, there's a reason sharing music doesn't hurt artists. Singles act as commercials for all the other things that make them money. They want their music played on the radio so you can hear it for free. They want their video played on MTV so you can see it for free. It's called exposure, and it's a good thing like Martha Stewart doesn't even know. If an unsigned artist found out people had downloaded 100,000 copies of his song, he'd crap his pants he'd be so happy.

    There's a reason Harvey Danger is willing to do this. It's also like VW letting people download their latest commercial. Good. It will probably make more people buy their cars.

    It's not just a publicity stunt or moral stand, it's a brilliant financial move.
    • by God! Awful 2 (631283) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:28AM (#13702085) Journal
      Okay, but you just compared the album sales revenue from a "standard artist" to the touring "floor" of Britney Spears.

      How about comparing apples to apples?

      -a
    • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Monday October 03, 2005 @04:18AM (#13702394)
      There is a difference between legal and illegal file sharing. Yes, you are correct. File sharing CAN be beneficial to many bands, in many circumstances, in a variety of forms (complete, snippets, streams, etc). No one is arguing against file sharing - we are arguing against illegal file sharing.

      It is up to the artist and his or her representatives to decide which data to give away, and up to you to respect their wishes.

      Quit whining and pay for your music (if the artist asks).
    • Nice write up. I have no idea how much of it is true, but I think you should point out that ASCAP royalties only go to the songwriters. That's good for most "rock" bands and rappers, because, in general, they write their own lyrics and music. People who just sing other people's songs don't get ASCAP royalites.
  • bravo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evil_mojo_jojo (554131) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:23AM (#13702063)
    If you're not one of label's top artists with a renegotiated contract after your second album has made the label ungodly amounts of cash, you're treated like shit anyway. Bravo for Harvey Danger. Download their music, if you like it, send 'em something for it. FWIW, I sent them ten bucks because I hope more artists will take the opportunity to ditch the lables.
  • i never heard of them either: allmusic bio [allmusic.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:27AM (#13702080)
    Paranoia, paranoia!
    The RIAA's coming to get me...
    Just say you never met me...
    I'm runnin undeground with the moles (digging holes)
  • That's two torrents in two days! I wonder if more are to come now that BT has VC funding? That's cool BT's great technology and it's good to see legitimate uses for it prominently featured.
  • Simply incredible (Score:5, Informative)

    by nekoes (613370) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:42AM (#13702129) Journal
    I guess it was only a matter of time before bigger artists finally started offering better online distribution options... but for Harvey Danger to offer an entire album on their site - one that's encoded correctly and free to boot - that's almost a dream come true. I hope this experiment of theirs works out, because I'd love to see a lot more artists out there take note.

    For those who don't realize why this is a rather big deal, Harvey Danger was a fairly popular rock band from the late nineties. They're most known for Flagpole Sitta', off of the album Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?. That album and Kings James Version are both pretty decent and it's kind of sad the band has fallen to the wayside as of late. Hopefully this publicity will do something for them besides raise their bandwidth costs.

    While the whole idea may not be entirely novel, they're still one of the few more popular bands that are offering a full album for download off of their site. Also their site doesn't have any terribly gaudy and annoying flash elements. Kudos for that.
  • Damn! (Score:3, Funny)

    by willpall (632050) <pallwill-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:59AM (#13702169)
    I just paid $1.632 for the album on AllofMP3.com!
  • Harvey Danger sticks out in my mind only as the one-hit wonder from the late 90s with the single "Flagpole Sitta". The rest of the album was horrid and pretty much scarred them for life. So I have to think they're just doing this because they really have no other option than this besides maintain their OHW status and keep releasing albums that very few people will buy.

    Regardless, I'll issue the standard slashdot "THEY'RE TROOPERS FOR DOING THIS, DOWN WITH THE LABELS" statement, listen to the album and perha
  • by seasleepy (651293) <seasleepy@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Monday October 03, 2005 @03:04AM (#13702186)
    Well, I certainly wasn't expecting to see this pop up on Slashdot... I had actually downloaded this a couple of days ago since I already love the band's other two albums, but this isn't a massively new idea. I certainly won't begrudge them the publicity though.

    But for those of you who'd like a geek tie-in, I've been poking through the websites of one of the band members [typepad.com] and come across some interesting commentary about getting things set up on the technical side, from choosing a webserver [geekfun.com] to making sure the files are tagged properly [geekfun.com].
    • I've been poking through the websites of one of the band members

      Oh noes! He works [typepad.com] for the Mircosoft! You can't download the music now! (think about it -- Seattle band, guy got a CS degree, works for a "certain large software company" ...)

  • Not exactly on topic, but closely related is the ads on certain DVD movies. I don't know if this is a widespread practice, or perhaps just a new trend in Japan, or just another example of my innocence, but... I only saw it for the first time last yesterday. It was a movie DVD that we rented, but the default play mode was to show a whole bunch of movie trailers before the actual "feature" film. On top of that, after the main movie, they had appended a chunk of another movie that was supposed to encourage you
    • Happened to me too. I was watching the Japanese R2 release of Dodgeball (not my choice!) with some friends and there was a ton of commercials before the menus even loaded. I didn't care, but the only place I had seen that before was Disney's releases of Ghibli films in the U.S.

      I was not happy about it.
  • bt.etree.org (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeathPenguin (449875) * on Monday October 03, 2005 @03:33AM (#13702258)
    IMHO, it's always a good thing when artists decide to cut out the middle man and let the music sell itself over the web. However, as many have already noted, this is hardly unique to Harvy Danger. I suggest checking out http://bt.etree.org/ [etree.org] for a lot more great trade-friendly artists. They have a good variety with bands such as the Black Crowes, the Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, and Gwar.

    Again, this is a good thing that Harvy Danger is doing. It just makes me wonder why it took them so long (Maybe they had to wait for a contract to expire or something), other than the fact that they haven't had a hit in years and are probably desparate.
  • I first read the article as them releasing their new album a track at a time (little by little), spread over a longer time. And I thought that might actually be a good idea that could work. Apparently they're not doing it like this but the concept is still good I think:

    1. Release album on CD.
    2. Release a song from the album for free on the internet every few weeks, taking a few months to download the complete album and in the meantime attracting a new audience who might buy the CD because they (A) want the
  • Never heard of them myself but hell I'll grab the torrent and give 'em a listen.

    If it doesn't suck and I see them playing somewhere locally I'd be very likely to go see them live (heck even if they do suck a little I might go anyway just to get out and go someplace).

    I hope this is a huge success for them and other artists begin following along. The more artists who get on the bandwagon the better.
  • by Pathway (2111) <pathway@google.com> on Monday October 03, 2005 @03:47AM (#13702293)
    This is good because:

    1. I don't buy music. Really, I don't. I feel fine listening to everybody else's music which they bring to work. Or listen to oldie's on the radio. (My local stations have no good music, so oldies it is for me.)

    2. There are plenty of bands I've never heard of, and are quite good. I had never heard of Jet, but a friend brought them in to work to listen to. Good stuff. I've heard some old Harvey Danger when I lived in Olympia, WA in the 90's. They were quite the sensation. Good stuff is hard to come buy, and when it does... we get interested and want to find out more.

    3. For those who do buy music, they'll buy the album. Seriously, the average consumer likes to support what he or she likes. If the price isn't outragous, they'll pay. Sometimes they'll play again, because they lost the CD somewhere. I've seen it happen all the time.

    4. For those who won't buy music, this changes nothing. People who won't buy the music they listen to are probably stealing it... So, this doesn't change the model.

    5. For older music, either you already have it, or you have to go find it. If it's available on your band's website, then you can tell them all about your new music, or tours, or whatever.

    I've always been of the opinion that if you broadcast any media, it should be public domain. Basicaly, if I can pick it up off the air, why can't I record it and replay it whenever I want? Don't want it to become public domain? Then don't broadcast it: Use pay-service such as Cable or satellite radio. Put it on a broadcast channel?

    --Pathway
  • by brennz (715237)
    I just listened to all of this album. I've never listened to them before.

    They do have talent. I liked it.

    Diminishing Returns appealed to me most, and I think they would sound far better live.
  • by Anonymous Writer (746272) on Monday October 03, 2005 @04:43AM (#13702470)
    In the MP3 zip file you can download directly from the site, the MP3s have a bitrate of around 160 kbps (VBR). The BitTorrent download zip file contains MP3s of around 230 kbps (VBR).
  • by fuerve (61263) on Monday October 03, 2005 @05:28AM (#13702582) Homepage
    Rather than squander my time as a total dilettante, I went ahead and purchased the album. The collector's package, even, with the buttons and the t-shirt and so forth. And why not?

    As a citizen, it makes me feel American-as-Apple-Pie to vote with my dollar in favor of a principle and model for which I have strong feelings. As a geek, it thrills me to participate in the subversion of the standard monolithic approach to cultural design by a leaner, sleeker, more modular one, built upon a (mostly) consentually standardized set of interfaces.

    Sure, this may not be a completely original idea. In fact, this idea has been tried out in various forms for quite some time now. As someone who doesn't follow popular music, I've been at best peripherally aware of this phenomenon. Very little product represented in this way has been of interest to me. Up until now, I haven't had the inclination to support this process in an active way, because, while I agree with it on principle, it has never been presented to me in a manner that is compelling enough to cause me to make an actual change in my behavior, despite whatever antipathy I might have for the music-industry-at-large.

    Take me as an experimental group, if you like. My reaction was positive for a number of reasons. First, that the presentation alluded to certain social and cultural phenomena about which I feel strongly, namely culture itself, free cultural exchange, and the rights both to personal expression and to the personal establishment of cultural norms as vehicles for communication (which I assert as self-evident as an arguable premise).

    Second, the integrity of the experiment. While the artists retain their copyright, they release the music with, for the intents and purposes of the common listener, no restrictions upon its use and distribution. Express what cynicism you may about the common listener and his social motivations, or the artists and their financial motivations, but the things that motivate people do so because they are rewarding to people. The new model might do much, and the traditional business model certainly does comparatively little, to reward its constituency for simply doing what comes naturally to it.

    People naturally seem to want to share ideas and experiences with one another, finding a place in the "noosphere" (if you will) to call home. At the same time, it is difficult to be cut off from diversity and potential. Whereas a society that indoctrinates its members to accept culture as it is handed to them does little to foster a deep-seeded sense of diversity of experience, perhaps a society that rewards vigilance, determination and resourcefulness with breadth and splendor and models for expression that suit the individual's needs will do better.

    I'll download the album and listen to it, but I think I'll keep my package wrapped and sealed as a memento of a historically noteworthy occasion.
  • by samj (115984) * <samj@samj.net> on Monday October 03, 2005 @05:35AM (#13702604) Homepage
    artists don't need to work for free; we just need to turn it around so as it's the artist rather that the distribution channel that's getting 90% of the profits. Previously it was expensive to record the music itself. This is no longer the case - friends of mine churn out HDTV ready content on a $1000 iMac! Nor is it expensive to package and distribute the music. I don't see why a distribution network can't exist that works on a 'cost plus ten' model, especially if that network were built on top of a peer-to-peer network.

    Here's the clever part: if the artist is getting 90% of the profits then the *new* price of the track/album need only be around a 10th of the old price (11.11%) for them to get the same profit per sale, but all of a sudden our (typically fairly static) music budget can buy us almost an order of magnitude (9x) more music, which means more artists get a share in a big pot rather than a small handful getting a share in a small pot.

    Everybody wins, except of course the dirty thieving 'legacy' recording industry; the same ones that said the VCR would destroy them yet who are now making billions each an every year from home video!

  • by putko (753330) on Monday October 03, 2005 @05:41AM (#13702611) Homepage Journal
    http://www.wired.com/news/mp3/0,1285,60650,00.html [wired.com]

    "Technology giveth and it taketh away, and the industry knows this," Chuck D said. "The horseshoe makers probably got upset at the train manufacturers because (the new industry) took away their transport dominance, just as the train manufacturers probably got mad at the airline industry."

    "I think this expands artistry and it's about adjustment," he said.

    "As an artist representing an 80-year period of black musicianship, I never felt that my copyrights were protected anyway," Chuck D said. "I've been spending most of my career ducking lawyers, accountants and business executives who have basically been more blasphemous than file sharers and P2P. I trust the consumer more than I trust the people who have been at the helm of these companies.

    "The record industry is hypocritical and the domination has to be shared. P2P to me means 'power to the people,'" Chuck D said. "And let's get this to a balance, and that's what we're talking about."
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday October 03, 2005 @07:42AM (#13702947) Homepage Journal
    For violating the sacred law of raping and pillaging their own consumers.
  • by lcsjk (143581) on Monday October 03, 2005 @10:59AM (#13704115)
    The RIAA and MPA would like to close all torrent sites so that music and programs cannot be "pirated". If enough people use torrent programs to download legitimate music and programs, the industry will not have a leg to stand on. (Of course they have a lot of money to lobby with,though).

    Articles like this one on slashdot can alert people like me to sites that they may have not found before,and that adds not only to the torrent usage, it also helps to publicise those artists that are trying to make it without the huge backing of the industry.

  • by neo (4625) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:01PM (#13704782)
    They have distribution and a little bit of marketing sense (hey, they got slashdotted), but they are missing the feedback loop. What they need to hear from their new patrons is what the patrons want to hear from Harvey Danger. "Flagpole Sitter was great. Do more songs like that." Once you've mastered marketing your service, feedback is the key to getting people to pay for it.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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