Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rob Walker on Girl Talk's new record

Lifted from Murketing.com: More interesting than Radiohead

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty curious about the Girl Talk release.

It’s getting a lot of attention, although nothing like Radiohead did. And although Girl Talk is clearly following in Radiohead’s footsteps by releasing a record on a pay-what-you-want basis, in my view this is a lot more significant. And not just because Radiohead generally bores me to tears.

In addition to that factor, it’s because, as I’ve said before, the whole Radiohead thing was imperfect as an indicator of where the music business might be headed for the simple reason that Radiohead is in fact a creation of the major-label system. The band benefited mightily from the precise traditional band-building method that anti-label zealouts are so fond of attacking. So when those zealots said that In Rainbows demonstrated the death of big music and a portent of a new, enlightened future, their argument was rather seriously undercut by the fact that Radiohead is a product of big music. Period.

So what happens when an artist who was not built by the labels starts dabbling with new distribution methods, and, potentially, builds a major name for him/her/itself in the process?

Girl Talk is at least potentially a more interesting case study to watch.

Plus, Girl Talk gets bonus points for being basically a mashup artist who uses massive numbers of samples to build songs, and apparently doesn’t clear any of it with rights-holders. So he’s pretty thoroughly postmodern.

Thus I’m watching this with interest. (And listening. I paid $10 for the release, and have been listening to it over the weekend.)


I haven't listened to Girl Talk yet myself. I have a feeling it won't be my thing and I think the pay-what-you-want model is terrible [although a smart legal side-step in this particular case,] but that doesn't matter and I agree with Mr. Walker on all major points above. It doesn't really matter what big label acts do. Independent artists who can create their own following and write their own rules will have the greatest impact on how the entire industry functions. This requires that all successful artists are enterpernurial, marketing-savvy renaissance people who also happen to be much more talented and dedicated than the rest of the herd at the core of what they do. I don't see anything wrong with that. It'd be a nice change actually.

This gets back to the fundamentals of DIY: Why do it yourself? Because nobody will do it for you, and even if they do, you can do it a lot better. [And if you can't, there's always accounting.]

2 comments:

Doc said...

Independent artists who can create their own following and write their own rules will have the greatest impact on how the entire industry functions. This requires that all successful artists are enterpernurial, marketing-savvy renaissance people who also happen to be much more talented and dedicated than the rest of the herd at the core of what they do. I don't see anything wrong with that. It'd be a nice change actually.

This gets back to the fundamentals of DIY: Why do it yourself? Because nobody will do it for you, and even if they do, you can do it a lot better. [And if you can't, there's always accounting.]


YES YES YES!

PS: You might like Girl Talk. Give it a go.

Michael Doyle said...

I think you're right... I didn't realize his roots are in the breakcore scene. Everything makes more sense now.