Back in September, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released a surprise solo album via file-sharing software BitTorrent Bundle. It was an unconventional way to release an album, but unconventional is becoming the new style in the music industry.
It all started with Beyoncé’s self-titled album, released overnight in late 2013. There were no singles, no press releases, just a new album popping up on iTunes. It was a significant power play, but it flipped the music industry in ways even Bey probably didn’t predict.
Following her example, U2 used an Apple launch to automatically send its new album, Songs of Innocence, to the hard drive of anyone with an iTunes account. In October, hip-hop outfit Run the Jewels tweeted out a free download of their new album just days before its official release.
Studios have been playing catch-up to the digital age for several decades now, and these releases show that even big music stars are starting to refuse to play by the rules dictated in a radio age that has long since outlived its usefulness.