Girl Talk Takes Charge

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Published December 7, 2009

One disadvantage to the pay-what-you-wish model that the music industry has borrowed from museums in the last few years is that, in practice, most people end up not wanting to pay very much at all. Admit it: how much did you really pay for Radiohead’s In Rainbows? (According to one survey, one-third of people paid nothing, and the average person coughed up just £4.) Or for Paste, during their pay-as-you-will period in 2007? Or, for that matter, for the silly Nine Inch Nails promotion that offered a variety of ways to pay for their 2008 release Ghosts I-IV, including a $300 option that included a Blu-Ray disc and an autograph?

And have you ever paid for a Girl Talk recording? Though the model has been used primarily as a one-time gimmick for other groups, Gregg Gillis has always been forced to rely on it–because Girl Talk’s mashups consist entirely of thousands of unlicensed samples, he’s legally unable to demand a certain amount for them. Girl Talk’s label, Illegal Art, has long instituted a pay-what-you-wish model for Girl Talk albums, allowing fans to contribute to Gillis’s coffers with the implicit understanding that they were just making “donations.”

As the label has just figured out, though, there is one way to put a set price on a Girl Talk album: donate all the proceeds to charity. Today, with that in mind, llegal Art is releasing a limited-edition 2-LP pink vinyl version of Girl Talk’s 2006 album, Night Ripper. The shock of its lofty $100 price tag is alleviated by the fact that 100% of the proceeds will go to charity: water, a foundation that brings safe drinking water to developing nations. So if there’s someone on your holiday gift list who’s as socially conscious as musically conscious–well, you’re welcome.