A Slice of Fried Gold

In Rainbows

Thursday, October 11, 2007

As many of you have likely heard (considering it has made most every form of news, from every blog in the world to the Anchorage Daily News), Radiohead released a new album yesterday. Typically, this would be a big deal for music aficionados as the band is simply one of the best out there, and even those who are not big fans of their music likely respect them for their clear talent and their longevity. However, what makes this a far larger (the word epic has been bandied about, and god knows people don't use that lightly) happening than a simple album release is the distribution method.

This album was only released online.

It was only announced 10 days before its release.

You can pay whatever you want for the album.

Also, when I say whatever you want, I mean literally whatever you want. I love the band, but I am also cheap. Apparently my cheap side overcame the love side, and I paid $0.00.

For a band that is well known for making rather bold statements (ask them about Bush's Presidency - I dare you), this may have been their boldest. From a Marketing and Distribution standpoint, this single move may have revolutionized the music industry. Some would argue this type of movement of music is the future. The band is without a label, they released it entirely on their own through their own site, and they did not go out and interview about the album or hype it or anything. They simply announced it and let the hype grow organically. Or as organically as something on the Internet can grow.

The point is, this single album could force the changing of the tides from CD to digital music once and for all. A band like Radiohead doing this proves the viability of this type of venture, but only if it is a success. Which by every indication so far, it is. Now you are probably wondering, why would a band willingly take money out of their pockets by doing something like this? Well, they did not take a whole lot out, as removing the record label from the equation means that all money earned from sales of their album is in fact earned. Instead of taking in something like 10 cents on every dollar, they are earning a dollar on every dollar. Even if half of every "purchaser" pays nothing, they will likely still be earning five times as much as they would with a label.

Outside of that, the ability to pick up the album for free could easily create a new generation of Radiohead fans, catapulting the band to even higher stratospheres of popularity than before, allowing them to build on their already high revenue on merchandise and ticket sales.

I'm sure this move terrifies record label executives, as it could easily be a change of direction to a new future for the entire industry. Already, Trent Reznor (aka Nine Inch Nails for all intents and purposes) has abandoned his label, citing the need to get away from the current form of the music label. Will he do the same thing that Radiohead did? I would not be the least bit surprised, nor would I be surprised if he wasn't the first of many.

So that is enough of that, everyone knows the current issues with rapidly decreasing CD market and the increase in alternative distribution. This just happens to be an extreme case that happened with a far more high visibility band.

The main question now that the album has been released and the hype has subsided a bit is...is it any good?

Well, it isn't going to reinvent the wheel. If you like Radiohead, you'll like the album. This is their 7th full length album, if you didn't like any of the other albums, you probably will not change with this one. It is a very good Radiohead album, and I would probably put it as my fourth favorite after about 5 listens, behind OK Computer, Amnesiac, and Kid A, but ahead of Pablo Honey, Hail to the Thief, and the Bends. It is a very relaxing album, and sort of feels like an amalgam of every album they've made (besides Hail). Each of their albums had very individualistic feels, and this one is the first one that feels as if it smashes it all together into a big Radiohead album. It has raw instrumentation, electronic effects, distortion, ambient vocals. Yep. It's a Radiohead album.

It is by no means a fun album, nor is it exactly radio or driving music. But if you are the type of person who listens to music while studying, reading, or surfing the Internet, this is a great zone out album to put your cares away to. Especially the track "House of Cards." That is a particularly good one. Although someone else needs to listen to "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" and tell me why that reminds me so much of "Hotel California." Why does it sound so much like it?!

Anyways, this was a very random posting by me, I just find the idea of Radiohead releasing a free album online that is actually very good to be extremely cool. Check it out. Why not? It's free, and that is a price no one can deny. Or pay money, so I can feel a bit better about the fact I paid nothing. Either way, get on that!


sheri said...

You forgot to mention that:

1. You can also buy an actual CD with booklet and all that (or vinyl I believe?). It costs a real price. If I recall it's a pretty high price too.. It might be 2 discs.. and I'm pretty sure it was more than $20. I imagine their most devoted fans will buy that - so that some more income.

2. After news of this, Oasis and Jamiroquai(according to the internet) are rumored to be planning to do the same. So even pre-success it seems to be catching on.

and 3. I think this method is great. The biggest bummer about it is that it probably won't work as well for bands that haven't already had big commercial success. But it may! Personally, I hope it becomes the "future" of the music industry. And not just because I'm cheap!

I'd be way more apt to spend money on music if I knew the revenue was going to the band. And I'm more apt to check out a new band if I don't have to pay to "try it out". I don't think I'm alone in those feelings.

Apparently I should have just posted my own blog on the topic :p.

David Harper said...

You should write a blog on it, but I recommend not at work because it definitely cramped my style.

Post a Comment