Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Radiohead Swimming With the Current of Digital Music Culture

Radiohead has always been an innovator with their music. They have explored new sound textures and styles with each album since Pablo Honey in 1993. Now they are doing the same with their upcoming release, “In Rainbows,” but this time they are taking on music distribution channels. There are 4 multinational music corporations that control most of today’s music. Instead of bending to corporate bidding, they are moving directly towards how people are consuming music today. I’d say they are even moving beyond that and innovating in this thorny space. Their plan is to publish their music online and let people pay whatever they’d like for it. That’s right. Download it and share it as you like without any DRM in your way of enjoying their art. Next year, they will release a traditional plastic CD and an $80 2-vinyl record set with extra songs and photos via their website. On top of this, they aren’t going to send out advance copies of the new album to traditional media.

They upload, you download and share without any middlemen. They are embracing small-is-the-new-big and long-tail philosophies, but they are doing so on the opposite side of the food chain. Imagine the author getting his book in PDF form directly to you instead of through Amazon. How will this change things? We shall see, but we know retiring to Muzakish irrelevance isn’t where they are headed just yet.

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