Prog rock band Marillion has gotten quite a bit of press for its decision to publish its entire new album on P2P networks for free.

Marillion is using Music Glue to spread the album, and the company quoted the band's keyboarder with the following words in a press release related to the promotion:

"While we donít condone illegal file sharing, itís 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 pay something for it or at least come and see us on tour."

Marillion's album was officially released on P2P networks today, even though it seems like the torrent in question was initially uploaded to the Pirate Bay almost a week ago. Either way, there definitely seems to be some interest in the release: Mininova is currently counting 81 seeds and 75 leechers.

A look in the Pirate Bay's comment section however reveals a far more troubling picture: None of the comments is about the music. Instead, everyone is complaining about DRM. Turns out Music Glue used Microsoft's Windows Media file format to protect the files and forward users to its website the first time the music is played. The website then offers access to unprotected MP3 files in exchange for a user's email address.

Music Glue describes this idea as a "unique interactive band-to-fan interface mechanism", but one really has to wonder how effective it will be in the long run. WMA files that open up websites aren't really all that unique, but a fairly well known trick of P2P spammers that often spread files with misleading titles this way in order to increase traffic to affiliated websites.

Marillion's motives seem to be more sincere that those of said spammers, but I think it will only be a matter of time before someone uploads a torrent with unprotected MP3 files of the album. Maybe Marillion should have taken a look at Trent Reznor's P2P promotion efforts. Reznor released the latest NIN record through a private tracker on his website. Users had to register with their email addresses, but got a variety of DRM-free file formats in return.

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