Thursday, November 08, 2007

Head for oblivion

So, over two-thirds of people who downloaded the Radiohead album didn’t pay a rusty penny for it? Those who did only coughed up a couple of pounds on average.

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to music. I expect to pay for it, I buy albums on CD and until Millie came along bought singles on vinyl (part of my DJ-ing delusions). Space has dictated that I can’t really fit anymore vinyl into the house, so I’ve started buying the odd download single.

Downloading a whole album and not paying for it didn’t fit. I am a fan, so I did contemplate it, and decided to pay £5. This makes me more generous than most, I guess. When they announced that it would come out on CD, I decided to wait.

I wonder what Radiohead think of all this. Maybe it’s all part of a grand plan – sign to a major, make commercial albums, and then use the money made from The Man to subvert the industry. Using corporate greed to bring down corporate greed.

Or maybe they had faith in humanity and actually assumed people would want to pay for it. Like me, they’re of the generation that bought its music in hard format with money. Maybe they despair at the kids today who see nothing wrong in stealing other people’s work. It’s enough to make Thom Yorke start reading the Express and vote Tory.

There’s been a lot in the rhetoric about how this is changing the face of the music industry by cutting out the record labels. But Radiohead, and their kin (The Charlatans and Prince) have established their profile as a result of the labels. They can now operate outside their control.

Other artists can’t operate like this; they need the publicity that labels offer. For all the talk of MySpace bands, the Radiohead move isn’t really going to bring down the status quo. The Radiohead way maybe an option for the late career artists, but its not really going to work for those who are up and coming.


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