I’ve been a fan of The National since I first heard their song All The Wine years back. Their lead singer Matt Berninger sings in an unforgettable deep baritone voice, similar to Crash Test Dummies, another band I like.
A few weeks ago The National, a ten year old Indie band about to release a new album, fell victim to music piracy when their album was leaked online. They responded by offering a stream of the album on the New York Times website. Then turned to social media site Tumblr to tell fans about it. They said a low quality version of their album was making its way across the Internet, but they hoped their fans would instead go to the New York Times site to hear it “at its intended level of quality”. They also took the opportunity to announce the release date, so fans could then purchase the album.
I call this a nice, classy move by the band and a big win for the New York Times. It’s the first time the Times has ever debuted an album on their website. I’ll bet it won’t be the last. It enables them to offer value to a younger demographic and spice up their website with quality content. In fact, it’s the kind of offering that any online station would jump at. The Times has the site traffic to make it an attractive offer for the band as well.
NPR has been doing similar album debuts on their website for awhile, and in fact they are now offering a stream of the same album (it’s still in advance of the official release date). Last November they featured a first listen to Norah Jones new album, and a list of First Listens on their site includes David Byrne, Merle Haggard, Jeff Beck, The Dead Weather, The New Pornographers and lots more. Again, as The National’s album debut did for the Times, this feature expands both the image and the demographic for the NPR brand.