Little By Little
September 29, 2005 6:27 AM   Subscribe

This is by no means a manifesto. We don’t pretend to be the first band to spin a variation of the shareware distribution model. We love record labels and record stores. We buy lots of CDs and are committed to supporting independent music. We’re not a bunch of fake Marxists. We’re just trying to be smart capitalists so we can sustain our lives as musicians. This is an experiment. We’ll let you know how it goes. Harvey Danger offers their third album, "Little By Little" as a free download in hopes of getting their music out to more people, and perhaps selling more records.
posted by Remy (24 comments total)
I, like many others, have never heard anything by Harvey Danger besides "Flagpole Sitta." But a whole album for free, legally? I'll download it and listen to it. If it's good, I might send a couple bucks their way. Way to go, HD.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:31 AM on September 29, 2005

I own their first two albums and love them, so I bought the deluxe album without even hearing it (even though I knew it would be available for download). It's good, but it's not the same as their earlier work. I hope they keep making albums though, so I'm happy to encourage them. Their lyrics are much more clever than the usual pop trash you hear on the radio currently.
posted by inthe80s at 6:38 AM on September 29, 2005

I, like many others, have never heard anything by of Harvey Danger besides "Flagpole Sitta." ever.

I've downloaded it, I'm listening, and I likey. Good on you, Harvey Danger. Good indie bands, pay attention! This is a great strategy to get more ears on your music, and with BitTorrent, you don't need to invest in an assload of bandwidth. In fact, this is exactly what BT was made for; I downloaded the album in less than 15 minutes.
posted by Plutor at 6:42 AM on September 29, 2005

I think we're all getting the album a little faster, thanks to Metafilter and it's users! I too haven't heard of them, but am willing to give them a spin. Well done Harvey Danger.
posted by Hanover Phist at 6:57 AM on September 29, 2005

I met HD after they opened for (gack!) Semisonic once (we had come just to see them, and left 2 songs into Semisonic's set). Seemed like some decent guys who just like to make music. I'll have to check this album out tonight.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:15 AM on September 29, 2005

Theey should do it like Magnatune where there is a little donation box for people who don't plan to buy the album ever, and don't want to give the redord label anything.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:36 AM on September 29, 2005

Huh. Lots of unsigned bands are doing this. My band, for example, has yet to make anyone pay to have our songs. Obviously in the hopes that they will like it enough to come see us play etc.

Another example - our very own Melissa May and her group The Harvey Girls give away their albums for free online as well, in the hopes that if you like it you will toss some money their way.

Also, The Harvey Girls are way better than Harvey Danger.
posted by Quartermass at 7:56 AM on September 29, 2005

I've never heard of these guys either, but so far I like what I'm hearing. I don't need to buy the CD, but I'll be happy to send them a few bucks because the music is enjoyable and also for being brave.

I predict they'll make a lot of money on this because of the publicity and because a lot of us want to support musicians who embrace technology and understand reality.

As more bands do this, the hype, and the money, will not be as plentiful. It'll be interesting to see how many bands can make enough for it to be worth their while.
posted by bondcliff at 7:58 AM on September 29, 2005

Harvey Blue
posted by melt away at 8:00 AM on September 29, 2005

Harvey Blue

He needed the money!
posted by bondcliff at 8:01 AM on September 29, 2005

Harvey Danger is a band from right here in sunny Seattle with a lot of good ideas, and well worth the download. Their one-hit wonder was just a brief dorsal fin breaking the surface of the mainstream music industry, but there's a big ol' fish down there if you care to listen.

Other great under-appreciated Northwest bands include the songwriting duo Magic Magicians (featuring members of 764-HERO), the sci-fi book-throwing geek band BlöödHag, and for you black metal fans, Black Noise Cannon has a lot to offer.

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with any of these guys.

End local music promo.
posted by Aquaman at 8:49 AM on September 29, 2005

Some bands have been giving away free music for decades to create a fanbase that would then come out and support them when they toured.
posted by trinarian at 9:24 AM on September 29, 2005

Good on 'em. Once I'm home, I'll give it a try.
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 AM on September 29, 2005

"with BitTorrent, you don't need to invest in an assload of bandwidth"

If I were promoting my band with free distribution of my music, I'm not sure I'd limit myself to BitTorrent. Doing so will cut your audience dramatically.

As cool as BitTorrent is, not everyone uses it, nor will they be willing to figure out how to use it for a band they've never heard before. Some people won't even use it for a band they really really like. I've been watching RSS search feeds for the past couple of weeks. I saw a lot of blog posts by people who were eager to get the new Harvey Danger album for free, but many of them were waiting another week for the HTTP download.

This is born out by the stats. Almost as many people have downloaded the album by HTTP in the past two days as have downloaded the BitTorrent in the past week and a half. Even now, with lots of traffic from sites that probably skew towards the BitTorrent-willing, there are as many BitTorrent "leechers" as HTTP downloaders, and the webserver is shoving out as much or more data every second as the entire bittorent swarm of 424 seeders and 49 leechers.

Thanks to Moore's law and Ebbert's fraud, bandwidth and hosting are pretty cheap. You could get a server with ~TB of montly transfer for ~$130 month. That's enough to pump out over 33K copies of a full album like "Little by Little" encoded in pretty high quality MP3 every month. That's less than a penny per new listener, even less if you just put up a few songs. You can bring your monthly costs down by splitting the server with a few other bands too.

(not in the band, but set things up for the downloads)
posted by Good Brain at 10:01 AM on September 29, 2005

The Harvey Girls are way better than Harvey Danger.

Eh. It's a toss up. This is a great idea by the Harvey guys, but as others have said, lots of other acts (even with record deals) have done the same thing.

With so much other free music available, it's hard to even justify the download these days. Color me spoiled, but is it worth the few minutes and 50MB of space or whatever? Does anybody like the music?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:23 AM on September 29, 2005

in related news my shoegazing/ambient/dreamy band ohler just released our third album into the creative commons:

release page on em411
direct link to tar file containing all the songs (170mb)
link to directory where you can download the songs one at a time

We just want people to hear our stuff. We worked two years on this album and are buying ads around the web to get some exposure (ie spending money to give something away.) It feels good to not worry about making a dime -- like art or something.
posted by n9 at 10:33 AM on September 29, 2005

Also, more on topic with dreamhost I get 17GB of disk space and 270GB of bandwidth a month for $25. That's about 3000 downloads of a normal length album -- a penny a copy. That is huge amazing news for musicians -- just last year it would have been about 10x as expensive.

Unless you are a big name you can afford to do some pretty massive self distribution for less money than it would cost to run a zine.
posted by n9 at 10:37 AM on September 29, 2005

I'm pretty sure Weezer regularly offers up downloads of their demo tracks for their fans -- another signed band giving away their music for free.

This isn't particularly innovative, but it is a sign of the times. Cheers to HD for taking the plunge.
posted by Down10 at 10:54 AM on September 29, 2005

Good stuff n9. I like what I hear and I'm d/l'ing now.
posted by schoolgirl report at 12:47 PM on September 29, 2005

Good for these guys, but it ain't that new. Wilco streamed A Ghost is Born, which is a great album.

Buy indie music, and better yet, go to their shows to help them out. Lots of these bands stay alive more through shares of the door than anything else.
posted by bardic at 12:55 PM on September 29, 2005

Wilco streamed A Ghost is Born

They shared Yankee Hotel Foxtrot before that, which is a much more interesting story.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:43 PM on September 29, 2005

They shared Yankee Hotel Foxtrot before that, which is a much more interesting story.

Where can I download it?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2005

I'm afraid you missed the boat. In short: they signed with Reprise, an AOLTimeWarner subsidiary, recorded the album, got dumped by Reprise, streamed the album, signed with Nonesuch, *another* AOLTimeWarner subsidiary, and released the album. So effectively, AOLTimeWarner bought YHF twice!

So they're probably not distributing it online for free anymore. Not that it's, ahem, impossible to get.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:34 AM on September 30, 2005

I'm digging the Harvey Danger, and really liking the lyrics that I can make out - think I'll have to send them money. Thanks for the link, Remy.

n9 - nice stuff! Reminds me of Zoviet France. And it doesn't aggravate my hangover. (damn those winemakers, anyways!) I think this is usage of the web at it's finest.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:25 AM on September 30, 2005

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