How to appear completely

…or at least digitally.

I like what Radiohead is doing with their new album In Rainbows. Free of any record label obligations, they’re letting the individual fan set his or her own price. This pretty much says it all in today’s age of music distribution:

“Digital technology has reintroduced the age of the troubadour. You are worth what people are prepared to give you in the digital age because they can get it for nothing.”

Maybe things really are changing.

I’m going to download it tomorrow. What am I paying? I look at it this way: It’s not an actual physical album that I can own and rip for years to come. I also don’t get the visual aspect—art, lyrics, design, pictures. And the distribution and reproduction costs are negligible. At the same time, it’s their art, their production, they have costs involved, and it’s a matter of principle. In US dollars I’d pay $8 for it. So I’m giving 4 Euros (today, that actually works out to $8.16).

Here’s where you can download In Rainbows.

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4 Responses to “How to appear completely”

  1. I read today in one of my media newsletters that Oasis and some other band are doing the same thing. Record company execs are shaking in their boots.

  2. Sorry, had to look up what I couldn’t remember. Jamiroquai is the other band.

  3. > Record company execs are shaking in their boots.

    Yep, I agree totally. The downside is that it doesn’t really help the smaller artists. If I understand it correctly, it’s like two kings fighting each other. The only way Radiohead, Oasis and Jamiroquai could do this is if they’ve already had support during the early days of their career from a big label that got their names and their music out there. So in a sense, they’re benefiting from the fame that has been assisted by a big money corporation, and the label has benefited from the popularity of these bands. So they’re fighting over money and control.

    I’m not sure lesser known artists have the luxury of doing something so courageous. Unless they’ve got a kick-ass manager, they couldn’t get the distribution and marketing they’d need if they want to survive financially.

    But still… it does seem to be the start of a real movement away from major label control and more democratic forms of distribution… and more money going straight to the artists where it belongs.

  4. Right. With the business I’m in we’re learning a lot about how to adapt our model to the Internet. Traditional print publications are moving in that direction, and isn’t music just another form of publishing? If print can figure out how to grab an audience online it would seem that musicians could figure out how to do the same. Perhaps the next wave is for indies to band together and buy advertising online, to reach an online audience, to download their music online. Once they’ve built that following, either continue the collaboration or go it alone.

    There are some really fascinating things happening with pubishing these days, in all its forms.

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