The songs are mp3s encoded at 160kbps, the same quality level eMusic.com uses.
It is also worth noting that the album which two of the songs are from was voted the no. 1 best reviewed album of 2005 on Metacritic.com, ie. the album with the highest number of positive reviews.
The three songs are:
This seems to be a new way to market music, a more open one. All three of the songs are some of the best on their respective albums, so it isn’t like Asthmatic Kitty is giving away the less popular ones. Could this work as a business model? Give away the singles that actually fuel album sales and let the people decide if they want the rest of the album? The record companies seem to be doing it the other way around right now. They try and get you to buy an entire album for that 1 song you like. It’s sneaky and underhand. It’s the reason why online music stores like iTunes seem to scare them so much. People don’t have to buy entire albums anymore! But what if some indie labels took it one step further and gave away the popular singles? I think it might work to their advantage.
Sufjan’s record label, Asthmatic Kitty has a page on BitTorrent.com and is offering other artists’ music for download as well.