Trent Reznor and Radiohead revert their stance on the DIY business model; this is irrelevant to anyone who is not already a major label success
Trent Reznor and Radiohead made headlines a few years ago as being the first major-label bands to go without a label and distribute their music on their own. They’ve changed their minds on it.
I’ll TL;DR this for you. All this really means is that these bands weren’t able to handle the marketing side of it on their own, had the political clout to enter record deals they were happy with and are sacrificing some of the profits to not have to worry about that. It doesn’t mean anything to anyone who is less famous than Lady Gaga because bands that have this kind of political clout are extremely rare.
Reznor seems the most reasonable about it when he admitted this.
“…we wanted a team of people that are better at [marketing] than I am worldwide. That felt like it was worth slicing the pie up monetarily.”
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke seems a bit more cuckoo for cocoa puffs:
“Yorke said he now feels In Rainbows experiment may have actually helped technology companies, such as Google and Apple, strip the value out of music for their own benefit. The way Yorke sees it, the Web music services have sought to turn music and other media into commodities, and in the process made them “worthless.” Radiohead helped whet their appetites for free music and now that’s what audiences have come to expect.”
I have some news for Thom Yorke: Radiohead did bull-hockey butt nothing to train people at large to want and expect free music. The entire population of music fans does not pay attention to Radiohead – only people who like and know about Radiohead pay attention to Radiohead. People have wanted and expected free music before Radiohead did this and will continue expect it to afterward. The cat is out of the bag. You cannot put it back in. I lived through the 90s, the rise and fall of Napster, and everything that has come since.
The most disheartening thing about Thom Yorke’s statement is that it shows that Radiohead only got it partially correct the first time around. They were able to take the first step but they weren’t able to connect with their fans in a real way. Do I really need to link Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk? I rarely see much about either Trent Reznor or Radiohead on Twitter and my friends do like these bands. I *always* see Amanda Palmer retweeted and she must be talking to her fans for at least an hour a day. Really talking. Not just tweeting garbage. Even if you don’t like her music her twitter feed is interesting.
This just tells me that Trent and Radiohead do not enjoy the outreach part of it and that is perfectly fine. There is a reason that I do all of the tweeting and my partner Harknell doesn’t touch it. You either like it or you hate it. At least Trent has the good sense to admit it rather than pass blame.
The catch here is that these guys can use their political clout to work with a label and still come out fine. There are probably less than 1% of musicians who can do this. The fact that they are retreating is unique to their situation and says very little about how the Fan –> Musician relationship will move forward for everyone else. The Major labels made sure that the industry was hostile to newcomers and expensive to fans so I have no doubt in my mind that Amanda Palmer’s model is the one that will eventually become the norm. The way most musicians are treated by the Big Guys is clearly not going to get any better.