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october 02, 2007:
a record price for a radiohead album: $0
distribution control is toast

Jonline, for free. Incidentally, the band Radiohead came out with its latest record yesterday as well (admittedly, its 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. I have talked about this many times before and the Radio- head development is another great example of what’s happen- ing right here, right now:

Distribution as a control factor is toast. Everyone has distribution via the web now. • Major artists going direct is becoming a fact of life in the music industry. It’s their managers who are driving the undoing of the major record system (along with technology, of course).
It’s attention that matters first, and only then is it 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 – with their attention and their dollars.

The fact that this is happening just as EMI and UMG are going DRM-free and WMG’s EBJ is furiously back-peddling from his past “We will not relent because we need control no matter what” pitches should raise a huge warning signal for the major labels: You are about to become squashed between hundreds of managers and artists who want to go direct, large retailers like Amazon that are re-writing 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, search engines that are powering or even becoming music communities, and the burgeoning 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. Get engaged or get outmoded. And do it soon.