A record price for a Radiohead album: $0 (LA Times) - Distribution Control is Toast
Just yesterday I released my new book The End of Control online, for free. Incidentally, Radiohead went out with their latest record, yesterday, as well (admittedly, their music is probably more popular than my books;), for 'any price you want to pay' as a download, and for a very steep price for the box set. The LAT has a good feature on this.
I have talked about this many times before and the Radiohead development is another great example of what's happening right here right now:
- Distribution as a control factor is toast. Everyone has distribution via the web now. Man have even unvoluntary distribution :)
- Major artists going direct is becoming a fact of life, in the music industry. It's the MANAGERS that are the un-doing of the major record system (along with technology, of course)
- It's ATTENTION that matters first, and only then it is sales. Exposure comes before the selling.
- The Web is the NEXT RADIO and that's where the music is playing, first and foremost
- Give the USER the control, and they'll reward you handsomely.
The fact that this is happening just as EMI and UMG are going DRM-free and WMG's EBJ is furiously back-paddeling from his past 'we will not relent' pitches, should raise a huge warning signal for the major labels: you are about to become squashed between 100s of managers and artists that want to go direct, large retailers like amazon that re-write the rules of online music selling (think bundles... think flat-rate), telcos and operators that are getting fed up with the tedious and outmoded licensing practices, and search engines that are powering or becoming music communities and the next generation of Radio. If you keep up the strategy of 'you need us badly and therefore we make the rules' you will lose the artists, their managers... and the audience. Another 12 months for this Radiohead experiment to become the default approach. Get engaged or get outmoded. And do it soon.
Update: Chris Anderson has a good blog post on this, here
Nice summary, too: Some information wants to be free, some wants to be really expensive.