October 10 2007

Musicians Look to Circumvent Traditional Channels

Musicians Look to Circumvent Traditional ChannelsOh the RIAA must be loving this.

Radiohead has released a new album entitled In Rainbows, and you can buy it only from their website.  And then the kicker is that you get to set the price.  Not only that, but the download is DRM free.  I just went over there and played with the pricing, I offered them a $1 for the album, and the site accepted it.  Wacky.  They do offer a premium set for fans, which is obviously what they are hoping people will take them up on, but for the casual listener, this is a bargain and a half.  (There is a minimum £0.45 fee for credit card usage)

Jamiroquai and Oasis, both which currently do not have record company contracts, are rumored to be considering the same path.  And even shakier rumor is that Madness, one of my personal fave bands to come out of the 1980’s Two Tone movement, is considering giveing their next album away for free.

The whole reason behind this is the bands make so little money on record sales, but they make all their big money on concert tickets, merchandise and so on.  So if they release an album for little or nothing, they gain more fans, conceivably sell more tickets and more merchandise… they come out ahead in the long run.

So, gee, on one hand you have record companies telling us that if we rip a song from a CD we purchased to our iPod, that’s piracy.  Is it still piracy if the album is given away for free?  What if the music is then put on the peer-to-peer networks?  And what if the band ENDORSES you sharing it over peer-to-peer networks?

The band Throwdown has done just that.  They request that their fans acquire their music by any means, and then you can truly support them by buying a shirt at the concert.  Dave Peters, the frontman of the band, says he does not view downloading as theft because “I have a hard time seeing it as stealing…when I don’t see any money from cd sales to begin with.”

The record companies best be rethinking their priorities.  Instead of suing a woman, and winning, how about you make sure your artists are also on board with what you’re doing?

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