Keyboard player Mark Kelly is quoted in timesonline saying "While we don't condone illegal file-sharing, it's a fact of life that a lot of music fans do it. We want to know who our file-sharing fans are. If they like our new album enough, then we want to persuade them to at least come and see us on tour."
Once downloaded you will see a video message from the band asking you to visiting the website, buy merchandise, music or concert tickets. You have to register an email address to get the free album.
But using the Internet is nothing new to this band. They've had fans helping them out with tour and albums through marillion.com for the past decade. In 2004 they got a song to 7 in the charts after asking each fan to buy three copies online. That top 10 position meant they got to play the song on televionon's Top of the Pops, thereby reaching an audience that had never heard of Marillion.
While you wait for the new album to appear on your favourite file-sharing site you can download the song Whatever Is Wrong With You and make a video for it. Upload your video to YouTube and the one with the most views by December 1 will win £5000. And Marillion will give another £5000 to the video they like the best. At last count there were more than 150 videos up on YouTube with more added daily.
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UPDATE: We did of course go looking for the album. And we found it, downloaded it and listened to it. Well, not quite. The listening part took a bit of extra work compared to your average illigal download.
First of all we sat with a Linux OS that meant that the downloaded album coded in wma played silently or threw up a message saying that these files are encrypted and won't play.
So it was time to fire up the old PC and find that clicking on the same files will start the Media Player. After a few seconds a small page opens and you get the above mentioned video message from the band before you're directed to a page where you have to enter an email address to get a mail with a link to download the non-protected mp3 file of the song.
You click the next song and the whole thing repeats. Well, actually, no. The page with the video opens but your address is already there and while it says you'll get a link posted, the confirm button push instantly brings up the mp3 download page.
So with a bit of clicking and some patience we got the double album as non-protected mp3 files at 128 kbps. The originally downloaded wma-files play on the computer without the video message popping up and all is fine. Better even, as the wma's are coded in a better bitrate; 192 kbps.
So ... the whole experience left us ... a bit fidgety. We would have loved it to be a bit more seamless, but can understand the whole email thing as they want to get a picture of where the downloaders are and also add them to the Marillion newsletter.
But the DRM (Digital rights management)-protected files effectively shut out the Linux user. I'm not Apple enough to know how an Apple computer handles these DRM wma's, but expect that they work fine. If any Marillion-downloading Apple user read this; please add a comment to this post and tell us how it worked out for you.
In the meantime the downloaders where we got our copy see frustrated to run into the DRM encryption as well. But we expect an nprotected mp3-version of the album to be uploaded in the time it has taken us to download the album, get the mp3's and write this.
Oh! So what about the music? We have listened to a few tracks and it sounds fine. A couple already is on the Radio Dupree playlist.