October 15, 2007
mp3 monday: death to the record industry (?) edition
By now I'm sure most of you have heard about Radiohead and their novel way of "releasing" their new album, In Rainbows. Just in case you didn't, here's the quick version: On October 1st, the band announced that In Rainbows would become available on October 10th in a downloadable, DRM-free format for a price of people's own choosing. There would be no advance copies so everyone (you, me, journalists, djs, etc.) would be hearing it for the first time at the same time.
People paid various amounts (all in English pounds), from 0 to 20. I paid £2 (about $4 plus a credit card service fee which they don't tell you about up front) figuring I'll probably end up buying a physical version when it's finally released but I might as well throw the band a little love seeing how much they've made me happy (or miserable, depending on your point of view) over the last decade and a half (my how time flies). You too can play along and pay what you want (although I warn you, the site is a bit wonky; try reloading the page after you've entered the site):
Some saw this move by the band as a major challenge to the record industry. In fact, the band's lead singer, Thom Yorke said after their contract with EMI/Capitol expired, "I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'Fuck you' to this decaying business model." At the very least, the band has found a very cool way of saying there are ways to both make people happy and make a helluva lot of money (apparently the band netted a cool £4.8 million!).
Of course, not everyone is happy. Many fans/cranks have complained about the low quality of the digital download (160 kilobits per second, half the rate of previous Radiohead mp3 releases). But no one held a gun to their heads and told them to pay for these downloads -- the band clearly let people know they could pay nada, zip, zero. Besides, good music is good music. When I was a kid, I first heard a lot of music on either a crappy A.M. mono radio or on a crappy mono record player (I actually had a "Talking Teddy" record player with a single speaker inside a teddy bear's stomach). I still loved the music, whether it was The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five or The Shirelles (such was my early childhood). So to these foolish sound geeks I have to say grow up and get over it.
Because ultimately the point is In Rainbows IS good music. Is it a masterpiece? Is it their best album? No and no. They've probably already done that. But the band continues to make challenging and often beautiful music. So, today I'm going to share with you Faust Arp, possibly the most beautiful song, soundwise, the band has ever recorded (lyrically, I'm not so sure). To listen/download, click the "album" cover below:
Part two of our special "death to the record industry (?)" edition of mp3 monday comes courtesy of Ray Davies of The Kinks and the Times Online. Ray has chosen, ala Prince to give away his new album, Working Mans Café, when you buy the Sunday Times on October 21st. To promote this giveaway, Times Online is offering a free download of a track from the new album called Vietnam Cowboys.
Unfortunately, many of us do not live in merry old England so ixnay on the free iscday. And, unfortunately, Times Online wants you to register with their site in order to get the download. However, because you are all my friends, I gave up my soul (well, personal information) and registered for all of you so you could enjoy Ray's new song. Not his finest hour (for Kinks novices, may I suggest The Kink Kronikles), but good to hear Ray's still got some life in him. Click the man to listen/download:
And finally, I came across this item today which probably does mean that it's curtains for the music industry:
CD sales are falling. Vinyl sales are rising but not for a mass market. So the music industry has come up with a new format in the fight against dwindling revenues.This has to be about as dumb as it gets. I cannot imagine the free publicity Fightstar is getting will even come close to help offset the costs of manufacturing these "divinyl" discs that no one except for collectors are going to want.
Rock band Fightstar is releasing its next single on a disc that is vinyl on one side and a CD on the other. Its record company Gut admits the vinyl-disc is a gimmick but hopes it will capture fans' imagination.
"It can only work as a gimmick because we don't actually know how many fans have record players," says Gut's chairman, Guy Holmes.
I sure hope the savior of the music industry has some better ideas...