In the Mid ’80s, when I was a gawky kid of 14 or 15, I’d make a short trip from my house at least once a week to visit Smokey’s Records. I’d pour over the latest issue of Billboard Magazine, scouring for news of my favorite bands and tracking their position on the weekly charts and occasionally, I’d even buy an album. One of the bands I watched most keenly was Madness, who had a couple of songs that managed to crawl into the top 40.
The music industry has been on my mind for the last decade, but it’s been at least twenty years since I paid much attention to the charts.
Lately though, Madness is in the charts again, and I’m pouring over music related stats again. These days though, I’m interested in another kind of madness: Harvey Danger’s experiment in giving away their latest album as a digital download. This time out, I’m not a passive observer. I put together the server and software infrastructure that’s made it possible for over 57,000 people to download the album as high quality digital audio files in the last two weeks. The cost is probably less than the budget for doughnuts during the production of their second album.
I’m interested to see how this little experiment turns out.
Jeff has a little “update about the whole Harvey Danger online release”:http://jeffjlin.typepad.com/rock_and_roll_mcdonalds/2005/10/a_few_notes.html on his personal blog.
It looks like a few people are finding there way over here from “Harveydanger.com”:http://harveydanger.com
I don’t have too much written up about the preparations, just “two”:http://www.geekfun.com/2005/07/30/webserver-auditions-alternatives-to-apache/ “posts”:http://www.geekfun.com/2005/08/13/webserver-auditions-round-two/ about some of the HTTP servers we considered, and some notes about “best practices for tagging MP3s”:http://www.geekfun.com/2005/09/14/tagging-mp3s-for-online-distribution/.
A short list of tools we ended up using:
* Debian Sarge on the webserver running “Lighttpd 1.3.16”:http://www.lighttpd.net/ which is currently pumping out between 6 and 10 Mbytes/s over 70-100 simutaneous connections while only taking a couple MB of memory and less than 10% of the CPU on a modest athlon XP box.
* CentOS for the tracker which is running “the BNBT tracker”:http://bnbt.depthstrike.com/index.php?title=Main_Page on a virtual private server.
* Ripped a WAV from CD using “Exact Audio Copy”:http://www.exactaudiocopy.de, encoded with the aid of “Foobar2000”:http://www.foobar2000.org/ driving LAME 3.90.3 and OggEnc using LibVorbis v1.1.1. (“Hydrogen Audio”:http://www.hydrogenaudio.org was an invaluable source of tips).
* Tagged with a combo of FooBar iTunes, WinAmp and Windows Media Player.
* Created the Torrents with “Azeureus”:http://azureus.sourceforge.net/. The distributed tracker option seems like a cool idea, but makes it much harder to eliminate your earlier versions if you have to update your torrent files.
There are about 500 leechers right now on the torrent, and the number of seeders has gone from ~500 when I started this post, to ~750 when I just checked now.
Enjoy the music. Goodnight.
“Downloads of the new Harvey Danger”:http://harveydanger.com/dowlnoads album got a big boost last night after the tech-hipsters at BoingBoing posted “an item”:http://www.boingboing.net/2005/09/28/harvey_dangers_new_a.html about the online release. Pitchfork sent a bunch of traffic a few weeks back when the album hit the stores, but BoingBoing’s flow outpaced theirs. The day’s traffic almost trippled it’s previous pace.
They weren’t the first to pick up on the downloads though. For one thing, earlier in the day the ultra-square “USA Today”:http://www.usatoday.com/life/columnist/hipclicks/blog.htm posted a link, beating BoingBoing by at least 3 hours.
Traffic for the Harvey Danger download has been crazy the last couple of days. In the last 36 hours or so some popular sites have been throwing a lot of traffic their way. I’m really glad we fixed some problems with the downloads the night before last. I’m also glad I noticed that the webserver with on a 10Mbit port, rather than the planned and paid for 100Mbit port before things really hit.
I do wish I’d had time to finish writing up more of what I have learned.
“Little by Little, the new Harvey Danger album”:http://harveydanger.com is now available for free, online, in official form. The “download page”:http://harveydanger.com/downloads, has high-quality MP3 and OggVorbis encodings available via “Bittorrent”:http://www.bittorrent.org.
The album is “also available in CD form”:http://harveydanger.com/store in really cool looking packaging, complete with a lyrics booklet and a bonus disk for a “nice price”.
All the new songs are in the torrent, in their full glory, including “Cream and Bastards Rise,” “Little Round Mirrors, and “Happiness Writes White.” “Check it out!”:http://harveydanger.com/downloads