They Might Be Giants release First MP3 Only Album

By Rich Menta
What seems to most balance out the major music labels resistance to the MP3 explosion is the fact that their own artists are ahead of the curve. When the Diamond Rio caught corporate offices flat-footed, the majors panicked and ran to the lawyers. Meanwhile, artists like Ice-T, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys embraced the new technology, using it to increase their presence on the Net. You think they do this to promote artistic freedom? Here's a hint, the big story this year may go to Alanis Morissette who, in a business maneuver worthy of Mick Jagger, plied her drawing power into a piece of MP3.com.


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Such moves do not mean these artists embrace piracy as some lable executives have accused. Just the opposite, these are shrewd entrepreneur moves designed to explore the distribution potentials of the web. By grabbing control early in a burgeoning medium, established artists are seizing an opportunity to put more gross dollars into their pocket, mostly with unreleased tracks that traditionally gather dust. Most tracks are distributed free in hopes of promoting interest in the artist's catalog or concert schedule. Lately, several pay-per-track models have evolved to generate direct income from this music.

This week, the band They Might Be Giants took the next step in online music commerce. In an exclusive deal with GoodNoise, TMBG announced the release of the first MP3 only album from an established artist. The quirky alternative band - a few years back they embraced historic technology by recording several tracks on Edison cylinders - released its first single from their upcoming album Long Tall Weekend. The track "Older" is one of 15 previously unreleased tracks to appear on the album and can be downloaded for free from GoodNoise.

The actual release date of the album and purchase price are still to be announced, but if the band and GoodNoise can successfully turn discarded tracks into gold, the profits will certainly draw similar moves from other artists. All of a sudden Amazon and CDNow may have a new competitor...the recording artists themselves.

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