Conveniently overlooking the fact that they speak from a position of having had the benefit of the solid backing of a record company promoting them for well over a decade, they now claim they want their music to get directly to their fans, and in which case they, of anyone, should make it free. Not since the Clash have we heard such tosh.
Even the dollar “admin fee” will glean them a few million bucks, so that should cover the cost of committing this latest round of whiny doodling to posterity. It’s a post-modern pseudo indie pea and thimble trick, as the fans will now feel even more compelled to shell out top bucks for the live experience which is the one thing (dyslexic chimpanzees being in charge of a strobe machine and a VCS3 notwithstanding) that no one else can replicate. There are too many shades of the Grateful Dead here to contemplate.
Prince gave his record away for free, millions of them, with the Daily Mail in the UK. Ignoring the vast majority that ended up as instant landfill, the Artist formerly known as $ pocketed a tasty seven figure sum for the exercise. For the artist also known as the Dwarf Dipped in Pubic Hair, it also allowed him to avoid the shellacking that his new record would get by the media when his record company purposefully allowed his record to crawl into the lower reaches of the chart, but high enough to prove their point that he needs them rather that the experiment www.buyitfromme&stickitotheman.com, which was, to be frank, a dismal failure. Why? Because people had to pay!
Make it free! No stock, no sales reps, no warehouse, no returns, no pollution, no accountants, it’s a better business model. Push the whole current record business thing off a cliff. If you can’t pay for it yourself or you can’t find a Medici or Ksubi-like sponsor, or you don’t want to make it free and make it up on T-shirts and touring, then don’t make it ! That’s the new bench mark. If you can’t find a way to give it away for free, then it’s probably not worth making.
Speaking of monkeys, the so-called democratisation of the music industry means a so called level playing field but what that really means is that as you read this, a million monkeys are probably firing up ProTools and one of them will write “Hamlet - the rock opera”. Another monkey mate will break out his Sony DV and then the whole thing will be on YouTube because that’s the place where there is an insatiable appetite for monkey videos, as we know. That’s evolution apparently.
People talk about the evolution of the industry. The mainstream recording industry has been recognised as a brain dead country club run by tone deaf bigots who wouldn’t know good music if it fell on them from a great height. For a moment in the 60s the best music was in the charts, then for the next few decades, there was an occasional appearance of great music in the charts, more by accident than design, and for the last ten years the best music and the charts have been mutually exclusive. This is the evolution of music like the McNugget is the evolution of gastronomy.
Lastly, don’t forget that the generation of people who don’t think they should pay for music are the generation who gladly pay for education on the basis that you get what you pay for. It’s a generation defining issue, and it seems some old fashioned people would rather pay for music and get their education for free, but that was before Evolution, and Radiohead. I can’t decide who I dislike more, the industry, or Radiohead, so I suggest we ignore them both.