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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Radiohead Did It Again

I thought about disclaiming off the bat that I am a diehard Radiohead fan, but then realized that's like saying I have two arms and two legs--describes nearly everyone.

Radiohead has built itself into a category of untouchables through decades of unbelievable work. It's one of the few bands ever to evolve with changing times and produce drastic evolutions from album to album.

Now, Radiohead has turned the inner workings of the music industry on its ear. Today, Radiohead released an album that you can buy for whatever price you like. On its own site--not through a record label. Name the amount and you will own a digital version of the new album. By cutting out the middleman and eliminating physical products to distribute, Radiohead keeps most of the money. In theory--the site is so overwhelmed with traffic that I can't get it to load.

Maybe the real disclosure should have been that I am predisposed to thinking anything Radiohead does is awesome. In reality, it's probably not a sustainable business model for anyone but the top artists who have a devout following of millions, but it is a signal that there are ways to distribute music outside of EMI and iTunes.


Mike said...

I doubt Apple would have an issue with these guys distributing the album through Itunes for free.

salina said...

Totally agree. BUT I think there's some underlying sense of duty when you have the OPTIONS of getting it for free or for buying it. I'm a total cheapass, but there's no way I'd snake a copy of this album without sending Radiohead some cash. More like a show of support than actually trying to fund their next venture. Free iTunes download wouldn't get that out of me.

Thanks for your comment.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

yeah, I'm the master FREELOADER...but even i tossed the crew $5. i also assume that since they are shipping direct that they get all the dough (with little production costs like printing, packaging, shipping, re-stocking...all the "services" that a label provides for an artists album)? rather than the mere $1 points off the $17 that the label would provide an artist? anybody know how that part works? keep me updated on the financial totals if anybody sees 'em. the unspoken secret in music biz: MOST BANDS DON'T MAKE MONEY OFF THE ALBUM SALES-THEY MAKE MONEY OFF TOURING. THE ALBUM IS MERELY AN EXCUSE TO TOUR and that is typically where the average band is gonna get paid - technically they are still in debt to the label until the album reaches a sales benchmark (and most don't). and unless you're in the mega-stratosphere of Madonna or Michael Jackson and you get royalties for publishing, and commercial licensing, etc, Joe Average Band is tasked with sourcing all manner of paid opportunities to capitalize off the "advertising" that the label fronts you with an album release (appearances, endorsements, tour schwag). i only mention that to point out Radiohead's experiment may be another tactic out of indentured servitude for artists...Prince and Starbucks and many others are pointing towards rebellious options. and isn't it time that pop music got rebellious again?

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

oh, and looks like NIN may have revolted

and i hear that Madonna is up to no good with defecting from Warner piece-by-piece...

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

seems someone has paid $1000 for the new Radiohead album, just to make a point - that record labels must change.