Saturday, October 20, 2007

Scary Monsters of the Recording Industry

A cold wind is blowing across the RIAA. Ten days ago, the English rock band Radiohead released their seventh album, In Rainbows. And when I say "released", I mean they put the album on their website and let their fans download it, paying the band whatever amount they want. So far, over a million copies of the album have been downloaded by fans. From the linked Time magazine article, the following quotes:

From Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke: "I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'Fuck you' to this decaying business model."

From an unnamed A&R man at a major European label: "This feels like yet another death knell. If the best band in the world doesn't want a part of us, I'm not sure what's left for this business."

From an unnamed rap producer: "Once you open that door and start giving music away legally, I'm not sure there's any going back."

The Time article points out that, at most, a band only ends up with 30% of overall revenues from their album sales, and that's for well-established big-name bands like Green Day. It ends by noting that Prince released his last album online for free in July, then went on to sell out 21 consecutive London concert dates.

Radiohead are planning to embark on a world tour in support of In Rainbows next spring.

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