To me this is more about updating the twisted business model and taking it as an opportunity to get on the cutting edge of music distribution. There are plenty of methods that have yet to be deployed to both reach more listeners and minimize piracy.
Format (CD’s being the mainstay for Twisted) has just been a very touchy issue I think, because QUALITY AUDIO is ABSOLUTELY required to really hear the twiddly bits and audio muckruckery of the art that Twisted puts out.
To give an example on reducing the impact of piracy: If Simon had put out free mp3’s prior to release. A “demo cut” per-se of the full cd, maybe with Si and Raja talking about the project even. Let’s say that was proliferated all over the net RIGHT NOW, at least it would obfuscate the leak to some extent. With luck enough to trump people simply typing the album name into google to pirate the cd. This is like the minimum one could do to reduce the impact of a leak.
I think what we’re seeing is a move from quality products towards added value in order to be able to succeed in this instant download marketplace. Simon, the sad fact is that even those people that DO buy the cd’s will probably not even have the equipment to appreciate the difference between mp3 and flac/aac in playback. Forget headphones, even the integrated soundcards in 99% of notebooks is enough to destroy the intended fidelity.
An example of added value: If customers who buy the downloadable FLAC version as opposed to 320kbit mp3, or physical CD as opposed to the downloadable, they get tiered content from the Shpongle DVD in their product (instead of offering the DVD separately) this would add value. Like how Radiohead created box set sales out of the hype of simply giving their product away vanilla style w/o the trimmings prior to release.
A really good example of “value add” is http://www.kickstarter.com/ The people making money here give the people who donate to their project/cause access to freaking pictures and blogs. Even this pithy stuff is enough to fund-raise apparently.