I’ve been meaning to write something about the new Radiohead CD for a week or two now, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Having seen a few other artists publicly announce that they were planning on doing something in the same vein in the coming year was a welcome sight. Even if In Rainbows drew the ire of some downloaders (myself included), there is definitely something to be said for just going for broke and trying something new. I will undoubtedly re-buy it not for $0 once it’s available in a format worth my money (whether that means they release it on CD at a reasonable price, or I can download a pirated rip of the from the boxset that I can download instead). I have no problem paying for my music, but I am picky about quality, as well as someone who likes having artwork or a physical disc.
All of that aside, we are in a ‘new world’ now you might say. Many artists finally realize that if you can get yourself known on the internet, you have a good chance of making money there. It almost seems funny to me, that many bands who are on independent labels are seen as those barely scraping by. However, a lot of the larger bands who are backed by labels don’t seem to make much more off of the CDs they sell, and they also seem to sound a lot more bitter. Why else would Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails tell his fans down in Australia to pirate it until the prices the industry are charging come down, or further that he likely won’t resign with another label, and go Radiohead’s route or something of that nature. The industry was good a decade ago when the internet was not the media rich social network it is today. As it stands today, you can get your music hosted on several sites that follow music, along with streamed and recommended by sites like last.fm or Pandora, and then keep your own website to stay in touch with all the fans you make. The same could not be said for the early 90s.
I know a guy in a band who plays local’ish shows, and occasionally plays solo as well. He’s a great musician, a huge lover of music, and an all around nice guy. I received a message from him on Tuesday with a link to a news article about a private bittorrent site being taken down. We both knew about the site, and this was kind of shocking news (as it was to many people on the internet who use bittorrent). What was more shocking to me was some of the outrageous press reports I read as I scanned the net for updated information related about what to me was a large news story. I’m glad to see that many sites are finally speaking up to put out more correct information, including artists whose music was available on the site. I fully believe that at this point in time, something like this is more likely to backfire on an industry only starting to warm up to internet distribution. Most people have already found ways to get what they want, how they want it, and when the want it on the internet, for free. Just as many do it legally through sites like iTunes (or their sales wouldn’t be so tremendously high).
I sincerely hope that a middle ground can be reached soon that will allow the consumer out there to get the quantity and quality available by downloading music (legally or otherwise), without all of the hassles that were originally imposed on consumers willing to skip traditional the distribution scheme. For those who still prefer getting a physical disc (like myself), I’d hope artists could do something like In Rainbows, and allow consumers to just get the CD (not the megafan boxset that I couldn’t personally commit to). If the price was reasonable, I’d have no problem buying it online if I could download it the same day and wait to get it in the mail, or be able to print out a voucher for pick up at some local store when it was released at a later date.