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Radiohead Multiple Choice

Posted by: Jon Fine on October 11, 2007

Please choose one or more of the following.

Radiohead’s much annotated pricing scheme represents:

A. The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning of the end, of the Music Industry As We Know It.

B. Something that only a band with a sizable and fanatical following like Radiohead could pull off.

C. Something we’ll be seeing more and more of, especially since various other active but long-in-the-tooth bands now spend stretches of their career without big-label contracts.

D. Other (please specify).

Your thoughts?

Reader Comments


October 11, 2007 3:41 PM

Well I think that most long-in-the-tooth bands have been putting out their reunion shows and live shows on their own labels for years and years now anyway. Pretty much every British Invasion or Classic Rock band has done this. For people not writing new songs with a solid backing of radio, tv and film royalties to keep the money coming in, it's a virtual no-brainer to give away the 1985 reunion cd with the electronic drums on the "metal" version of the 1967 hit. Radiohead is definitely "over" but not as much as Oasis or Jamiroquai (who had years worth of middling hits that never made it to the US). In this same vein Fugazi is selling a series of classic live shows for $8 each:
Certainly we should expect to see similar behavior on the part of other bands with their less-releasable material. Many bands with high visibility are years out of record contracts, so I suspect that just about everyone who wants the publicity will try this gimmick.

I wouldn't bet one dollar that a band who thinks they're going to have a big radio or tv hit will go this route at all.


October 12, 2007 12:05 AM

I think it's a mix of 2 and 3. Bands have been giving away music for years. Ever check out all the free albums on eMusic? There are tons these days. The differences are (a) nobody of Radiohead's caliber is doing it, and (b) their attention grabs have grabbed almost no attention.

Look at it this way: If free music gave that much of a boost, every artist traded on Limewire would be famous.

The real impact here is the wake-up call it's been to artists and labels. People will see there are all sorts of possibilities, and labels will step out of their silos and start thinking creatively (maybe out of desperation, but the impetus isn't as important as the outcome).


October 12, 2007 4:53 PM

selling albums is going to be increasingly hard...and if you run the numbers, you'll see for most bands and singers, there's more money to be made selling far fewer cds on your own than worrying about whether you can repay the advance on your cd.
but there will always be "hit" cds and major artists who profit from some version of the current system.

look at the publishing business. far fewer mid range authors are happy, but the biggies do just fine thank you

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