Selling Out is Good: Saul Williams Racks up $$$ from Nike Commercial

You may hate on Saul Williams for licensing his song to Nike for their latest ad campaign. Call him a sellout, but the dude is selling out all the way to the bank.

Indeed, the original video for “List of Demands” has become a posthumous hit; it has racked up more than 400,000 views on, 40 times more than the ad itself. The digital single of the song has been selling 10,000 copies a week since the ad first aired.

Williams gave fans the option of downloading the album for free or paying $5 for it, not unlike Radiohead’s “It’s up to you” pricing strategy for its self-released digital version of “In Rainbows” the same month.

After two months, 154,449 fans had downloaded Williams’ album, though less than 19 percent paid for it.

Yet two months later [after the Nike commercial] the number of downloads had increased to 225,000 with 60,000 paid, twice the number who bought the rapper’s previous album.

Although Saul’s move sparked some major discussions in the blog community, the uproar that his Nike decision caused is now rendered moot. The handful of fans who backlashed against his decision were replaced by more than 60,000 paying fans who would. Saul’s newfound popularity is generating consumer interest all across the board, and he was able to double his album sales overnight. These sales will surely extend to his previous albums as well as his books of poetry. Of course it doesn’t make Saul’s decision to go with Nike any less cringe worthy (we all know that Nike has had a history of running sweatshops and List of Demands is about reparations), but like I said before, this move was for the greater good and it finally seems that everybody is happy. (via Ad Age)