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Beginning of the End for Record Labels?


Krey20
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Radiohead release their new album as download only, without attaching themselves to a record label.

 

bbc news story

 

Having just downloaded the new Radiohead album, which is exceptional, I got to wondering what people thought about how they're going about the album release.

I was particularly interested by the fact that each customer could choose to how much they paid. (I paid a fiver, by the way. But after listening to it I wish I had paid more.)

 

I realise the thread title is a little over zealous. Radiohead are a big act so they can afford a possible loss. What they lose out here they will recoup through gigs, and the amount of publicity will be priceless.

 

Is this the way forward?

 

With the increasing use of the internet as a sales and marketing device will record labels eventually find that they aren't needed?

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I read about this last week. I couldn't believe Radiohead's decision to release on the web only and leave it to everyone to decide how much to pay.

 

My first thought was that I would pay the price I would normally pay for an album in the shops; I love the group and I think they should still get paid. My second thought was that if I paid the full price at say HMV, Radiohead would not get all that money.

 

Question: how much of the purchase price for an album do a group normally end up receiving? Does anybody know the answer?

 

Or should the question be: How much do I really think any particular piece of music I download is actually worth to me?

 

:confused:

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This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I'm a school librarian and I've recently sold off all of our music CDs as 'kids today' see them as old-fashioned. Hard to believe that just a few years ago (or maybe a few more than a few...) I was still regularly buying LPs and resisting the pressure to buy a CD player. Cliche alert.... we do live in a digital age, and although there has been a recent surge in 12" vinyl sales, today's young people will become used to buying their music via a download. As for choosing what you pay - to be honest, I think it's a publicity stunt. It's worked though, and the album will reach a lot more people's ears purely because a lot of people will buy it just because they'll see it as something for nothing (or very little). Record shops are having to evolve to ensure that there is still some high street business out there for them. I must admit to not having been in one for a good while, so I'm not sure how exactly they're doing this, but it will be interesting to see how they can survive the download revolution.

As for record labels - I think they'll just create a new function for themselves, perhaps by building their own online band management platforms/services, like myspace but more professional? But, I'm just speculating now.

What also interests me is how the other publishing media will fare - eg. films, newspapers, books - they're all out there in digital format. Digital distribution, whether by commerical publishers or independents, has definitely made selling your creative output a more democratic and even playing field. We live in interesting times.

BTW, MOH paid a tenner for Radiohead, but is wishing he had something he could put on his CD rack!

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BTW, MOH paid a tenner for Radiohead, but is wishing he had something he could put on his CD rack!

My exact reason for paying a bit less. Radiohead covers and inserts are always visually interesting, Hail to the Thief is a good example of that, so I feel like I've missed out on a little part of what I enjoy about the band's output.

Having said that, I'll inevitably re-buy it when they get another label to distribute it in the more conventional manner.

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BTW, MOH paid a tenner for Radiohead, but is wishing he had something he could put on his CD rack!

 

That my problem with all this downloading music - I like to have a physical object to show for my money. I like having a CD to put on my shelf. But I suppose in this ever-ecologically friendly world we have to relinquish our ideal of having manufactured products.

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That my problem with all this downloading music - I like to have a physical object to show for my money. I like having a CD to put on my shelf. But I suppose in this ever-ecologically friendly world we have to relinquish our ideal of having manufactured products.

 

I haven't joined the MP3 generation yet, partially for this reason. I'd miss great cover art - I used to buy loads of stuff on the indie label 4AD because I thought their inhouse design team 23 Envelope made fantastic sleeves. Same with Peter Saville for Factory. I'd be sorry to see this go.

 

Personally, much as I love the band, I think the Radiohead thing is a gimmick. Its also a poke in the eye for record companies, without whom they would not have got to the privileged position where the way they have chosen to release their new recordings could generate so much publicity in the first place.

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PUTS CYNICAL HAT ON....

 

After re-reading the news story that I linked earlier. It might be possible that this 'gimmick' will prove to be a powerful negotiation tool in the bands talks with a new record label.

What better way to prove your popularity? We'll offer our music for free but people will still pay.

 

If this is the case, Thom Yorke and co. are business geniuses as well as the musical variety.

 

(Think I'll keep the hat on actually...)

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I haven't joined the MP3 generation yet, partially for this reason.

 

Well, I have my iPod Shuffle and download a few singles for it occasionally, but I still prefer to buy CDs. I like to have a collection to browse through and it's not quite the same plugging in my laptop, then IPod and scrolling through my iTunes library as going up to my CD tower and picking what takes my fancy.

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Actually, since the advent of downloading I've bought a lot more music than before. I'm not a serious fan of music and have wildly eclectic tastes. There aren't many bands or artists that I like enough to buy a whole album so the pick 'n' mix style of downloading suits me perfectly.

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I have an MP3 player that I use very occasionally but I need to have CDs to play in the house and car. I know that downloaded music can be burnt to CD but it's just not the same (as already stated) and adds to the cost and hassle. I like buying a CD in the same way as I like buying a book, it's a nice affordable treat. I downloaded the latest Rufus CD from a dodgy site in order to get it two weeks ahead of the official release date, but bought the deluxe CD+DVD version as soon as Amazon would let me. All that having been said, I can see that this is a habit and a generational thing.

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Inspired by Krey's description of this album as 'exceptional', I've been trying to exchange 5p of my hard-earned for a download.

GULP!!!

Note: Every single person I've recommended Radiohead to in "Real World" has hated them. Must chose my friends more wisely... ;)

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My son informed me that last night it was impossible to download this album. He decided it was because America woke up and started hitting the website. I see in the paper this morning that the site nearly went into meltdown because of the numbers trying to download. My son finally got his copy downloaded for a fiver at six this morning.

 

His opinion on one listen through - it's close to OK Computer and he likes what he hears. I can't wait to get a listen.

 

I see there will be a physical CD to buy in January - can't wait.

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I see there will be a physical CD to buy in January - can't wait.

 

I've heard it suggested that this will take the form of a boxed set containing CDs, vinyl and artwork by regular Radiohead sleeve designers Stanley Donwood and Tchocky (aka Thom Yorke).

 

It's going to retail at £40, presumably as a way of recouping the money lost by everyone who followed Mr. Hazel's example.

 

Then again, I also heard the entire thing about the downloadable album this week was a hoax to drum up publicity, so what do I know?

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I've heard it suggested that this will take the form of a boxed set containing CDs, vinyl and artwork by regular Radiohead sleeve designers Stanley Donwood and Tchocky (aka Thom Yorke).

 

I read that somewhere yesterday as well.

 

I'm very much in the "I want the packaging" camp.

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I haven't bought, or even listened to, a Radiohead CD since OK Computer

Well I haven't bought a Radiohead CD since...

 

Hmmmmm.

 

Actually, I haven't bought a Radiohead CD. Am I wrong to be a bit cynical about this? The coverage I read noted the hugely expensive bells 'n' whistles version to be released later - isn't this just a great wheeze to get people thinking, "Oooh, that's good, and it'll be even better if I get the full version!" ?

 

Music is a moneymaking business - no one is in business for altruistic purposes. This is just innovation in an age when music marketing has had to adapt hugely, but hats off to them for that.

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... this new one is absolutely stunning!
I couldn't put it better myself. I have been listening to my son's copy all afternoon. It's back to OK Computer and Radiohead at their very best. Some of the musical arrangement is sublime and I am particularly taken with the percussion on one of the tracks. Fabulous! :)
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