October 15, 2007

In (Top 10) Rainbows - not so good after all?

Ok, I love Radiohead. Last.fm loves Radiohead. So everything is good right? Well, maybe not: Just because Radiohead can let their fans pay whatever they want doesn't mean it'll work for everyone else.

Radiohead's recent album, "In Rainbows," has enjoyed the limelight the past few weeks, especially on social media sites. The success of the album has people talking about a possible new model for the music industry, and the amount of money some people have paid for the album has been sort of a, "Told you so," directed at the RIAA and Label execs.

Before we all hop on the band wagon, we should take a few things into consideration:
  1. Radiohead fans are notoriously loyal (madison square garden)
  2. They've already had several very successful albums
  3. They don't need the money
The problem: they're already so popular they can release a 10 track album, and secure all 10 of Last.fm's top 10 songs, the week the album is realeased:
Screenshot of Last.fm
Do you really think this is a good model for new music? It seems to me, well established bands will be able to keep on making it, while it will just get harder for lesser known artists to compete; especially as the expectation shifts toward cheaper/free distribution of music. Steve O'Hear did a nice writeup on alternative business models suggesting that the music would be a loss leader designed to get fans out to shows.

Seems hard:
  1. Try to give away your music in an environment of nearly infinate competition (which will cost money)
  2. Then try to get people to come to your shows (which will have to cost more to support the artists)
What do you think? Leave a comment!

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© 2008 Jim Robert