Thanks to Radiohead, the internet *finally* has the record companies' attention

Susi Weaser Tech

Remember 2001, when it was decided that the record industry was going to be brought to its knees by peer to peer sharing? Remember yesterday, when last time we checked, there was still a thriving record industry? But it seems that there is going to be a casualty of all this music/internet/democracy malarky, but don’t worry. It’s going to be those megalithic-like record companies. And who’s to blame? Thom Yorke.

Radiohead has made their latest album, In Rainbows, available for download without the support of a record company. The twist? They’re inviting people to pay exactly what they want for it. So, you could bag a copy of their new release for as little as 1p, or you could offer to pay the going rate for an album. You could even pay £40 for a special edition box set, complete with artwork, additional songs and vinyl copies. So far, people appear to be using this ‘honesty box’ system, well, honestly.

The bands spokesperson has said that “so far most people are giving the amount they would pay for a regular CD [at retail price].” Wow. So we can really be trusted. It seems Nine Inch Nails think so, since they’ve just followed Radiohead and announced that they’ve left their record company and will pursue “a direct relationship with the audience as I [Trent Reznor] see fit and appropriate”.

Does this spell the end of record companies dictating to both the artists and the public?

The boss of EMI had a confidential email leaked this week (don’t worry, happens to the best of us) which had him telling his staff that they needed to wake up, or risk losing other big artists to this new ‘straight to the fans’ business model. He suggested that rather than relying on CD sales, the industry should look at downloading and the internet as a creative opportunity. About bloody time, we say.

EMI has taken a baby step this week, by announcing that the first 4,000 customers to buy the new Bluetooth Parrot Party speakers from John Lewis will receive a free download of the new Chemical Brothers album. OK, so it’s not a revolutionary promotion, but it illustrates that they see downloading as the future.

But record companies aren’t the only people to find problems with this new fangled internet malarky. Harvey Goldsmith, Led Zeppellin tour promotor and person I once sat next to, has launched an attack on eBay, after hundreds of tickets for the sell out gigs appeared on eBay. Not mincing his words, he declared in Kerrang that “I wish eBay would drop dead and die… I have begged them to take [the tickets] off and they have basically told us to fuck off. So I will do everything I possibly can to ruin their lives.” Glorious, glorious man.

It seems the future really is in your hands, if you’re prepared to be honest about it. If you haven’t had a look into getting Radiohead’s new album, check it out here. But don’t pay 1p. That’s not cool. If you want to sell your tickets ethically, try a site like ScarletMist, where you can’t list them for more than their purchase price.

By Susi Weaser | October 9th, 2007

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