Let's talk about Radiohead
. A hot theme indeed.
As almost all of you know, Thom Yorke
and co. have recently had the "revolutionary" idea of handing out their last album "In Rainbows" through the Internet alone, using a method we could call "free-offer downloading": you go on their site, you download the album, and, if you want to, you can drop a few pennies in the performer's hat.
The world-wide press immediately sung in praise of the british band labelling them as the Paladins of Free Music. What to say? Fine. No problem with that.
Well... not quite. Perhaps there is. I'd like to invite you to make a few considerations.
Firstly, let's consider the fact that the album is now fully available at music stores, Itunes etc. etc., and that it is now at the top of the charts (which wasn't the case with sole online sales) also thanks to brilliant marketing strategies.
Now, this kind of venture- free-downloading- is not at all today's news. An infinite number of indie bands have been using this method for donkeys years, but none of these bands have or had the fame of our fab-five. Nor their money: money used to make a publicity commercial
(a very nicely done advert..a little Apple-ish perhaps) and send it out on US television.
So what was the meaning of such an operation? To sound the the trumpet of revolutionary change and in the meantime let the media do their embellishment work, to then once again return to the physical plane to sell as we sentient human beings sell, but with an aura of divine light around them?
It may seem incoherent, but what gives the situation back its honesty is the fact that the album was sold materially to the shops through quite a large number of independant labels.
Now this should close our case, right? The future of music seems to be exactly here, in these few brief concepts: you make your own little web-site, and by by-passing the major labels and their money-hungry bureocratic pigs, you'll autononmously sell album after album.
In our dreams. Things don't work this way. Radiohead have had success because, being world-famous (they have been on MTV for 14 years and have sold approximately 23 million albums) all they had to do was lift the phone and say "hi, we're Radiohead, you wouldn't mind publishing our album would you?". Add to this: TV commercials, the critics and their reverential enthusiasm (even though musically speaking the album isn't particularly innovative) in magazines of all kinds, and you soon have the logical equation: not all bands in the world have the same resources, thus, not all bands have the same chance of having this kind of success.
In connection to this I'd like to cite an example of a similar venture to that of "In Rainbows", by quite an unknown artist in Europe who had the same idea. Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails infact produced together with Saul Williams
the latter's album, The Rise Inevitable e Liberation of NiggyTardust
, without though spending any money in publicity of any kind. These are his exact words:
It seems clear to me that Radiohead accurately chose to keep certain things to themselves, and never dreamt of speaking out on certain matters, busy as they were gloating in their renewed fame.
The future of music remains uncertain, but if in the meanwhile you feel like practicing your english I'll pass you an interesting read
on the subject, recommended by Reznor himself who it seems, has turned the musical-economic situation (and not only..) into a real crusade. Enjoy!