Almost from the moment the Arctic Monkeys began rehearsing in 2002, they vowed to do things differently. Seeing that the Internet was taking over, they took 17 demos they’d recorded, burned them onto CDs and then gave them away for free at gigs—something which, at the time, seemed terribly counterintuitive. These demos were named Beneath the Boardwalk by an early fan of the group who also saw that these songs got spread as far and wide as possible.
It worked and word-of-mouth on the band exploded online. By the spring of 2005, they were one of the most-hyped bands in all of Britain and the subject of a big bidding war. And when it came time for them to release their debut record, it was a smash hit, selling more copies in its first week in Britain than the rest of the Top 20 combined. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not went on to become the fastest selling debut album in chart history. Turns out giving away their music for free was the best thing they could have done.