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Radiohead generation believes music is free

It’s been a week since Radiohead have announced the unconventional release of new album ‘In Rainbows’, which is already available as a download this Wednesday. The press have put out some interesting articles on how Radiohead have shocked the music industry.

The Telegraph wrote on how the music industry has changed in these digital times and how fans and the industry are dealing with it: “With even diehard fans paying just a few pence for their album, Radiohead are not expecting a pot of gold at the end of In Rainbows. But the band has generated a fortune’s worth of pre-publicity by making the release national news. And all this without the usual rigmarole of sending promotional copies to music reviewers and radio stations, only to see pirated versions all over the internet before the CD even reaches the shops. […] Artists are increasingly making their fortunes from live events rather than records. In North America alone, figures by industry monitor Pollstar show ticket sales have more than doubled to $3.6bn (£1.8bn) in the past five years. ”
Charlotte, an 18-year-old A-level student from London, became a file-sharing addict: “You can set it up in the morning, come home from school and it’s done. Everybody does it. I don’t think many people know it’s illegal. It’s not like you’re going into a shop and stealing something.”

Stereophile: Radiohead doesn’t seem to care if the music is free. Not that they believe it will be. Because believers will give you all their money!”

If it were only about the money, Radiohead, as one of the most successful and commercially credible bands in the marketplace, could have signed with a major label and received stupid money—something on the order of Bruce Springsteen’s $114 million contract with SonyBMG. Record labels can’t resist deals like that, even though they seldom recoup their investment. I suspect that Radiohead are leveraging their credibility and popularity into creating a 21st-century business model that will pull musicians out of record-label serfdom.

In another article from The Telegraph, it was revealed that EMI executive Guy Hands told staff in a confidential e-mail last week that the industry had been too slow to embrace the digital revolution.

Hands’ letter was in response to the decision by Radiohead to release ‘In Rainbows’ throught their website. In the e-mail, sent to staff on Friday, Hands described Radiohead’s action as “a wake-up call which we should all welcome and respond to with creativity and energy”.

The Badger Herald wonders if Radiohead have actually made the right decision by letting the fans decide on the price for ‘In Rainbows’:  “The big question is, “Will this work?” If you mean, “Will more people listen to Radiohead?” Absolutely. If you’re talking about profitability, the jury is still out.First off, the distribution system is a little rocky. After was flooded with fans eager to preorder the album and the website briefly crashed, the band assured fans that the process would be up and running shortly. […] Can a band with such immense popularity and no distributor actually ship what may be tens of thousands of copies throughout the world? We may have to wait until December, when the discbox releases, to find out. Shipping issues aside, these could the early signs of a successful business plan. Perhaps. […] Perhaps that’s the right strategy —— offer the basic album for free, give audiences time to evaluate the album, grow to love it and then, once they see that colorful presentation winking at them on the shelves, they’ll have buy it. Right?

The Guardian thinks that the best pieces of marketing at the moment are coming from bands not brands: Discussion, judgment, conjecture and passion that will no doubt sell downloads by the bucket-load – this is what all marketeers would special offer their soul to have. The twist is that Radiohead aren’t marketeers. Although Maslow’s Needs, Brand Onion and TGI Run all sound like brilliant Radiohead song titles, I seriously doubt the band has ever heard of the first, looked at the second or come close to commissioning the third. No, Radiohead just do what they do and it works. Maybe brands could do it too if they followed some basic Radiohead rules of unmarketing: [more]

The Sunday Times wrote the following in their article entitled ‘The Day The Music Industry Died’: What looks like commercial suicide is, in today’s reality, sound business sense. Records, CDs or downloads now have all become downgraded to the status of promotional tools – useful to sell concert tickets and fan paraphernalia. While there is still good money to be made in music, and particularly on the concert circuit, the record business – blame it on piracy, too many CD giveaways or the advent of the recordable CD – is a busted flush. […] Interestingly the band now tolling the death knell of the record industry, Radiohead, seem currently to have mixed feelings about live work. “They probably will be playing some dates next year,” a spokesman said last week. “But Thom Yorke doesn’t like touring much.”

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  • i dont think the music industry has
    died! radiohead have just controlled
    the leak. and made some money from the
    controlled leak! Radiohead are signing
    to a new label too! It’s just a change
    in the way music is going to be

  • Wow, I’m glad someone outside the Madison area actually read that. I’m more astounded you put it here, especially given the huge amount of press this album is already getting. Of course, I would expect nothing less from the Atease elite. Thanks for giving a little love to the college press.

    Jason Smathers
    Editorial Page Content Editor
    The Badger Herald

  • This article from the Wall Street Journal takes an interesting stance as well.

  • The CD is not just a concert promoting tool… I think.
    Many people don’t have the chance to see bands live. You can remember for a good concert, but the work, the art you made in music history will always be remembered from your CD.

    P.S.: What do you think? The downloads will contain an artwork for the album, tomorrow?

  • I’d like to know where The Telegraph got their source from when quoting “just a few pence” for the cost of the die-hard fan paying for the album. Most comments I’ve heard are from fans paying £40 for the discbox.

  • Do we know exactly when the album will be released? I mean, Wednesday the 10th starts at a very different time than the blokes that make up the band.

  • just spreading the word about the In Rainbows pricing survey.

  • I bought the discbox so I get the download anyway, but if I had to buy the album download I would pay just as much as an normal album would cost. Music pirating is sometimes the last solution with songs who are hard to find in music stores.

  • if i wasn’t a fan of radiohead but curious about the album, i would probably pay 1p for it, to be honest. I think with the publicity generated there will be plenty of 1p sales of the album. I don’t think that will bother radiohead and i don’t think its the end of record labels. If new bands start shunning labels and can work effectvely i will take notice.

  • i just like watching them squirm

  • I ordered the discbox on October 1st, as any good fan should do. Does anyone know what time the album can be downloaded…tuesday/wednesday 24:00 ?

  • thank you for posting this ade.

  • discbox: the film

  • […] Radiohead generation believes music is free Premiere Radiohead site ateaseweb looks at various press reactions to the In Rainbows announcement. […]

  • Sounds like pretty cool. I appreciate this however other people say. I used to listen such music when I was traveling in the bay side of West Germany. It was really great. Anyway, thanx for the post.

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