Rusko is discovering that giving music away for free might not be as easy as he had previously thought. No, not because no one wants it. Quite to the contrary, since the shock-mopped dubstepper released his new EP, Kapow, as a free download early Sunday morning, his servers have crashed at least two times. They first went down just an hour after he unleashed the four-track giveaway, and they went down again today for a spell, although, for the time being, the pipes seem once again to be unclogged. So far, says his publicist, the EP has been downloaded more than 50,000 times.
But forgive Rusko’s web admins: This is new territory for the hard-charging DJ. Not too long ago, he was signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label; that relationship saw him go from a big fish in the relatively small pond of dubstep to becoming one of the scene’s biggest names — particularly in America, where his singles like “Woo Boost” and the heartstring-snagging “Hold On,” featuring Amber Coffman, helped set the tone for the genre’s main-stage breakthrough. But Rusko’s deal with Mad Decent soured earlier this year, exactly a week before the label released his second LP, Songs. Rusko threw a much-publicized shit-fit when the label offered the album for streaming on Mixmag.net, jumping on Twitter to vent, “U fcking useless numbskulls @maddecent al the hard work keeping it off radio, no djs, off YouTube, till release day was for nothing. Thanks”; a few expletive-strewn tweets later, he announced that he would upload the album to the torrents himself. Mad Decent declined to comment to SPIN.
Now free from his contract, Rusko has declared his intention to do things differently. To begin with, keeping the music under wraps is the last thing on his mind. “The natural thing for me to do is release ‘KAPOW’ myself,” he said in a press statement. “How I want. The way I want and at the speed I want. It’s about promotion and not profit – I want to give the fans the music in real time.”
It’s definitely about promotion: To get the EP for free, fans need to pony up an email address for Rusko’s database — or, alternately, “pay” with a tweet or Facebook post announcing their virtual patronage. That’s sort of like the music industry’s version of the “I voted!” sticker you get at your local polling place — you just don’t have to wait in such a long line for it. Well, at least as long as those servers stay up.