In Rainbows, a series of tubes, and how you’re gonna get paid, son.

October 13, 2007

I was sent the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows, for free. I listened and liked it. I can’t say I’m in love with it. Yet. It deserves at least a dozen more listens. That’s not necessarily relevant to the rest of this entry.

Radiohead have, in my opinion, pioneered a new way to sell and distribute music. They fulfilled their contract to their monolithic record label and chose not to renew it. Just do it themselves, and let their fans and rest of the world dictate how things evolve or devolve from there. As I understand, you pay them what you think it’s worth, and take Digital Rights Management-free, available in digital download format only with you, no questions asked. I don’t think you’ll ever see a Shelf Keeping Unit manifestation of this work. Amazing experiment. I’m thrilled that they had the balls to try. It will be a true test of our character as human beings, I think.

Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief at Wired Magazine, wrote a book called The Long Tale. It’s largely about how the internet has fucked with the traditional role of supply and demand and how the little guy has now got himself a new way to weather our seemingly ominous, ever-expanding economy. It was written about two years ago and holds truer every day. The book’s about 200 pages long, and I’m not about to go into the ins and outs of it here. However, Radiohead’s efforts with In Rainbows are testament to it. Or is it the other way around. Apparently Madonna’s hopping on that train too. Hopefully more major artists use them as examples of a business model that doesn’t require a mortgaging middleman. It would set not only a precedent, but a path to a new form of commerce–and not only with music, but in the way we interact with products and services everywhere.

It’s neat to watch ourselves evolve sometimes. Maybe we’re not so bad after all.

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2 Responses to “In Rainbows, a series of tubes, and how you’re gonna get paid, son.”

  1. Uhclem said

    We’re on parallel paths, my son…I just put a piece in today’s newsletter (http://tinyurl.com/344n2q) about the same thing, as well as about Prince giving his latest away for free. And the first person to put her whole catalogue up with a “download what you want, pay what you want” was Jane Siberry, about a year and a half ago

  2. two gurus in drag said

    I love the new record but it took a few listens to get there.

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