LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Radiohead singer Thom Yorke on Friday released an album via BitTorrent, the British rocker said, marking the first time the online file transfer system often associated with piracy has been used to sell music.
"Tomorrow's Modern Boxes," Yorke's first solo album in eight years, features eight songs and was produced by longtime collaborated Nigel Godrich.
Users will be charged $6 to have access through software company BitTorrent to a "paygated" bundle of files known as a torrent, which breaks the files up into small pieces which are downloaded from one or more peer-to-peer sources, Yorke and Godrich said.
Torrents have been touted as a more efficient way to download large amounts of data using less bandwidth, but some torrent-hosting sites have been targeted by authorities as the means to illegally distribute copyrighted material.
"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 Godrich said in a statement.
"If it works well, it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to the people who are creating the work," the statement added.
Yorke and his band Radiohead have experimented with alternative distribution models in the past, releasing their 2007 album "In Rainbows" first as a download on their website where customers could pay whatever price they wanted.
Radiohead's 2011 album "The King of Limbs" was also self-released online before physical copies were released.
The music industry has suffered a steep drop in album sales since the beginning of file sharing and online sales in the late 1990s. Year-to-date album sales are down 15 percent compared with last year, according to music magazine Billboard.
Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Marguerita Choy