Thom Yorke May Have Made $20M On Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
When Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released his solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes in September, he found a novel way to do it, selling the surprise release as a BitTorrent bundle for $6 a pop. About a week later, fans had downloaded the album a million times. As Gigaom reports, BitTorrent claims that by the end of the year 4.4 million users had downloaded Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes bundles. Some of these bundles were free downloads of “A Brain In A Bottle” and its video, while others were paying customers downloading the whole album and the video. We still don’t know how many people opted for the free bundle versus buying the whole album because Yorke has opted not to release that information. But if a healthy number of those 4.4 million downloads came from listeners who paid $6 for the larger bundle, that means Yorke could’ve made something like $20 million from the record. (BitTorrent’s take is 10%.) That’s pretty great for an album that never appeared on a single Billboard chart. Virtually nobody in music is making that sort of money these days, especially not on album sales. And even if the actual number of buyers was way lower, Yorke still made a pile of money. This sort of album-release strategy only works for artists who are already astronomically famous, but salute Thom Yorke for figuring out ways to keep stacking cash while keeping his artistic autonomy.