Wired has put together an excellent multi-media article about Radiohead’s recent experiment and the music business in general.
Byrne: What about bands that are just getting started?
“Don’t sign a huge contract that strips you of all your digital rights …”
Yorke: Well, first and foremost, you don’t sign a huge record contract that strips you of all your digital rights, so that when you do sell something on iTunes you get absolutely zero. That would be the first priority. If you’re an emerging artist, it must be frightening at the moment. Then again, I don’t see a downside at all to big record companies not having access to new artists, because they have no idea what to do with them now anyway.
Byrne: It should be a load off their minds.
There’s a lot to dig into including a cool live video of Radiohead performing Bodysnatchers.
Bryne asks a great question, “Why put together these things — CDs, albums?” Something I’ve thought about a lot and which usually ends up in any discussion about how the industry is failing its customers by selling albums with one, maybe two, good songs on them. After all, we didn’t always have albums. They’ve been a very long experiment—an experiment that works in some cases but not in others.
And now we have this seemingly solid convention of an album release. I would much rather hear songs as they are finished, streamed to me one at a time over the course of a year rather than all at once, once a year. It would give me time to sink my teeth into the lyrics, the emotion, and all the details. You also get a sense of the time and place in which the song was written. With albums, you have to find a solid chunk of time to devote to active listening, which rarely happens for me.
The way I would like to do things is to give away most of my content, saving some for a premium, and bundling groups of songs into packages that make sense. Content creation is fast paced now. People will overlook spelling errors to get your thoughts as you think them. There’s space for short or incomplete pieces of work.
I believe artists can learn a lot from bloggers. Publish often. Not everything has to be a polished masterpiece. Give away what you create in between the polished masterpieces. You can even give away your best stuff. In the case of a musician, reserve the better encoding options, the choice of file type and album art, and the first release to the listeners willing to pay.
What we’ve learned so far is, it’s all an experiment—even the current conventions.
I’m still digging through this article. There’s a lot of audio!