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Thousands Grab Girl Talk's "Feed the Animals" For Free, Creating Doubts About Pay What You Want

July 8, 2008 4:10 PM ET

Did Girl Talk make a mistake by using the pay-what-you-want method when releasing his new album Feed the Animals? That's what the Los Angeles Times wonders in an article examining whether an indie artist can generate income using the same experimental release strategy first pioneered by Radiohead's In Rainbows. While the sales numbers of Feed the Animals haven't been revealed, Girl Talk and Illegal Art (the record's label) admit that several thousands grabbed the album for free, that most people who bought the album paid $10, while the top "donation" was $50. People who paid money will receive a copy of the physical album in September, which will be the true test of how well an indie artist sells after giving away his album. Still, album sales never seemed to be an integral part of the Girl Talk's success, as the mash-up master has seemingly gone from playing frat houses to festivals in the span of two years — his overhead is low, his touring costs are minimal and he's not paying royalties on the 300+ samples he used for Feed the Animals. Still, the album serves as an interesting barometer and guinea pig to see if indie artists can exist outside the record label model as well as established acts like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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