Monday, October 15, 2007

Murketing on Radiohead's "Bold Moves"

Marketing guru and one of our blogging heroes, Rob Walker gives his evaluation of what the new Radiohead LP means to the music industry. It turns out we had pretty much the same take on In Rainbows' impact: very little if you're not already a mega-star.

He cuts to the point in the comments section...

[Yorke] can give it up because Radiohead has already gotten the benefits. Going from unknown band to million-seller is a lot harder than maintaining a fan base after the million-seller phase has gone on for years. And if the benefit wasn't such a big deal, then why did Radiohead sign with a major in the first place?

The main reason this got so many downloads is that it got so much attention, and the main reason it got so much attention is that Radiohead is a famous band, and one big reason that Radiohead is a famous band is that the band made a decision to sign with a label, and benefited from that arrangement.

Please note that this post does not suggest nothing has changed, or that labels are great, or that this stunt doesn't matter, etc. As I clearly say, I think it makes a lot of sense for Radiohead, but I'm not convinced that it tells us all that much about the future of the music business.

Walker and I both share a very tepid view of Radiohead's music - which should be irrelevant to the topic. He bought In Rainbows for $1, which is about as much as I imagine I'll enjoy it. But when I do get around to buying it (and I will - as soon as I listen to everything I bought off Bleep and Beatport the past few days,) I will buy it for the equivalent of ten euros. Why? Because I think a standardized pricing structure and standardized minimum bit rate are important in the new landscape of the industry.

There's still that file sharing monster under the bed - and DRM is certainly not the solution - but I'm hopeful, and would like to think that people will get used to actually paying for music in the digital download age. Just because you can't hold it in your hand doesn't mean it isn't real. The product is the music and the vision and work that went into. I stopped dubbing my friends tapes as soon as I was making enough money buy my own. I started buying uncracked copies software when I started making my livelihood off them. I still do copy or Audio-hijack (or more often beg the artists directly for) unreleased or out-of-print music when I've exhausted all options to purchase it. But as far as published music available to purchase, people should buy it. Not to protect EMI's bottom line, but out of respect to the artists making it.

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