Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lily Allen Is A Smug Bitch And Other Subtle Characterizations

Download: Lily Allen -"Everything Is Just Wonderful"

The last issue of Rolling Stone has one especially useful little tidbit: an article containing various performers' reactions to Radiohead's release of In Rainbows. I decided to make it a separate post because the types of comments left on it would be more discussion-based and wouldn't have much to do with talking about RS in general.

has some good songs, but she's kind of dumb sometimes. On Radiohead's decision to allow fans to pay whatever they want for In Rainbows, she had this to say: "It's arrogant for them to give their music away for free - they've got millions of pounds. It sends a weird message to younger bands who haven't done as well. You don't choose how to pay for eggs, why should it be different for music?"

Well, that's rich coming from someone who owes much of her success to MySpace, which is a more-or-less free publicity vehicle. I'm not sure what the weird message Radiohead is sending is supposed to be, and I'm don't know why paying for luxury items is equated with paying for food, but how on Earth is doing something nice for your fans arrogant? Would it be arrogant to play a free show?

Now that we're all over the novelty of Radiohead's method, I think we can appreciate that this might not be as revolutionary everyone initially raved. I think Mike Mills from R.E.M. hit the nail on the head with his reaction: "My faith in humanity is not such that I would leave it up to the consumer to decide how much to pay for music. At the same time, I enjoy watching Radiohead take that risk. I wish them the best of luck."

(Note to Mike Mills: R.E.M. has a lot of cash from that $100 million dollar deal you signed…you guys could probably afford to do this)

Similar reactions highlighting the viability of this model for successful performers came from Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, and Will.i.Am of the Black Eyed Peas.

I still feel good about what Radiohead did. I suspected that it might not be as viable for new bands who don't have much of a following, but is this really that different than putting up your album to stream on MySpace? It's pretty easy to get programs that extract music from a page without paying anything. I feel like Radiohead's plan might be the solution casual music listeners need to get back into buying albums. And die-hard Radiohead fans are still going to shell out full price for the hard copy when it comes out, so I don't see how this could hurt them. On the other hand, I do see how this could be an issue for a smaller band without the support base of diehards who will buy and cherish everything they ever do.

Now that the hype and hysteria is over, what do you all think about the way Radiohead released In Rainbows? Is this a viable model for small bands? Is the public ready to start setting the cost?

Lily Allen MySpace Page

(April Wright)

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Blogger stefanie said...

I tend to agree with the dude from R.E.M. I myself only just downloaded it tonight and spent a mere $5 USD. I'd have given more but I'm currently unemployed and such. Not that that's any excuse, but it's all I have to offer. I don't think it's a viable sales model for smaller bands at all, because they don't have the funds to back themselves up. How much does it cost to make a CD? Not much...at all. So really, a band like Radiohead isn't losing anything by pulling something like this. A smaller band wouldn't really be losing much either, except for the fact that they don't have the fan base nor the record-backing to do such a thing and remain on a label.

Okay, so as I'm typing this I'm realizing what you're saying. Could bands actually do this on their own, without the necessity of a record label, and still make money to do what they do? Hmm. I'm a little slow sometimes, sorry. I still say the answer is no. As much as I'd like to believe that bands could use websites like Myspace to get their music out there for free and then produce their own CDs (of decent quality) for consumers to purchase at their own price, I don't think it's plausible. Most people just don't care. If it's free, they'll take it, regardless of whether or not it means the band (or whatever the product is) will be able to stick around after such a feat. There are some, like me (usually) and you and my boyfriend, who would dish out the dough to support the bands we love. But we certainly don't make the world go round, so I'm going to have to go ahead and applaud Radiohead for attempting such a risky sales technique and encourage other bands NOT to do the same. Not yet, anyway.


11:18 PM  
Blogger April said...

I think I pretty much agree with Mike Mills, too. Radiohead can afford to do something nice for their fans, and that's great. It's probably not the best move for every band, though.

There's a band called the Sinister Turns that I'm watching with great interest due to this whole debacle. They're offering up their album for free, and I'm interested to see how this goes for them. Maybe I'll follow up with them about it at some point.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Neil Cake said...

I do say "fair play" to Radiohead for making such a stand. Whether or not other bands can afford to make such statements isn't my main concern however. What concerns me is the way the music industry works, constantly looking for the next big thing, (that by definition won't be much different to what came before it) and then throwing loads of money at it. It's commonly known that record companies need big successes in order to make up for this wanton abandon when it comes to the marketing of the projects they think will make them money. What this is really doing is taking potential funding away from thousands of other potential great musicians.

See, artists don't NEED to be stars. They don't need limos and all that, (though a more comfortable life would be desirable, and not overly expensive).

Personally speaking, as a musician, if I could say to a record company "give me £20000, and in 12 months I'll give you an album, then give me a bonus, say £10000 for a holiday. In 3-6 months, give me another £20000 (maybe a cost of living increase), and I'll give you another album in 12 months."

This is much more practical than giving singers like your American Idols and the like million dollar/pound contracts, then dropping them when their 2nd album doesn't sell. Admittedly it's a simplistic model, but I don't have time to write out a whole thesis...

If record companies were more realistic, and more open minded they could actually distribute music in a fair way as the artform it is, instead of turning everything into a commodity.

Music IS an art. It isn't SUPPOSED to be an industry. And record companies should exist to help artists reach their audiences, and offer the audiences what they are actually looking for, NOT what the record companies THINK the audiences are looking for. So if you want pop-rock, you can find it. If you want punk, you can find it. If you want something completely different and original... you should be able to find it because you have people whose JOB is to find music and give people access to it.

If Radiohead's stunt moves us slightly closer to a fairer and more openminded music industry, it can't be a bad thing.

4:25 AM  

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