A week ago, Thom Yorke released a new solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, through a freshly minted partnership with file-transfer technology BitTorrent. The surprise move was the latest in a series of twists on conventional album releases, from Radiohead‘s own pay-what-you-like rollout of In Rainbows in 2007 to Beyoncé‘s “visual album” sneak attack last December and U2‘s iTunes push. “It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around,” Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich wrote in an announcement.
If a million people are enough to represent the general public, the experiment just might have been a success. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes reached 1 million downloads yesterday, rising to 1.2 million as of this blog post. That includes free downloads of the “Brain in a Box” song and video as well as paid downloads of the full album. BitTorrent’s chief content officer, Matt Mason, wrote in a blog post, “One million downloads later, it’s working.”
Yorke and BitTorrent have yet to reveal how many copies of Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes were actually sold. So it’s unclear where Yorke might have ended up on this week’s albums charts, topped by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.