Saul Williams

A few months after the November digital release of Saul Williams's latest album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy­Tardust!, producer Trent Reznor was disheartened. Reznor had masterminded the Radiohead-esque plan of letting listeners choose between obtaining the work for free or contributing $5 for a higher-­quality download. The overwhelming majority of the 150,000 downloaders had chosen the former option, which caused Reznor's glum remark to CNET News: "[The] idea was wrong in my head, and for once, I've given people too much credit." Williams, however, remains thrilled with the results of the experiment. The highly regarded spoken-word poet, actor and rapper/singer says the project has introduced thousands of new people to his music and created fervent demand for his tour. Furthermore, the unique arrangement put money into his pocket much faster than a traditional record release would have. "I would be living off an advance right now, rather than actually living off the proceeds of the album," he says. In fact, paid downloads spiked immediately after Reznor made his dissatisfaction known. "All of these people were like, 'Oh my God! I loved the album. Now I actually want to go back and pay for it.'"


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