“Pay-what-you-want” music?

Well, Radiohead‘s new album is coming soon. I don’t really like Radiohead, particularly their new ‘Alan Parsons Project-with-an-Oxford-attitude’ iteration. I know, I know. “The Bends” was an epic album and “Ok Computer” changed your life. I just don’t like them.

Anyways.

The interweb is all abuzz today with the news that the band will offer its new album, In Rainbows, as a pay-what-you-want download. What does that mean? Exactly what is says. Radiohead fans will be able to pay whatever they want for the new album. Two dollars, twenty dollars, your left kidney- anything goes.

This is not a new idea. Jane Siberry (who has, in some bizarro new age breakdown, now changed her name to Issa) has a similar policy on her website, and actually makes on average slightly more than the suggested price per download. So there may be something to this whole PWYC vibe.

Of course, Radiohead is by far the largest band to experiment with PWYC, so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out. And they can only do it because they are so big, they can afford to self-produce and release their music. The vast majority of name-brand artists are still shackled by the dinosaur-like major labels, lumbering towards extinction clinging to the vain hope their old business model is still valid.

So, Radiohead fans, have a good time paying what you can. For my part, I’ll be spending my cash- albeit old-fashionedly- on another artist.

H/T to MN for the link.

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7 comments

  1. Matej

    I’m saying they’re a bad band.

    They went from writing some of the best, tightest modern rock songs in recent memory to concocting frustratingly structureless soundscapes, all in the name of “art.”

    I know this makes me sound like some curmudgeon pining for the “good ol’ days,” but I honestly believe if you tried to release some of the crap that Radiohead has in a vaccuum (ie. without the Radiohead name), no one would accept it.

  2. Joshua

    They went from writing some of the best, tightest modern rock songs in recent memory to concocting frustratingly structureless soundscapes, all in the name of “art.”

    Hmmmmmmmmm. I wonder what would happen if bands just stopped actually trying to push their creative boundaries and make an interesting contribution to the world of music and art? Oh, wait, it’s already happening every 7 seconds on popular radio/tv/internet.

    My own opinions about Radiohead and their song writing skills aside, it’s inspiring to see a band try to branch out grow. Did everyone love it? Obviously not. Did they challenge an industry to open their ears and make something new? I think so.

    Technically, you’re right though, Kid A did have 2 structureless sound scape type tracks. I’m pretty sure the rest of the tunes are all pretty damn well formed in terms of pop songs. They may have left out a bridge on a couple though. Crazy Radiohead, so tricky and just out to confuse…..

  3. Matej

    Joshua, I think you missed the quotation marks I put around the word art. I’m all for bands who “push their creative boundaries and make an interesting contribution to the world of music and art.” I’m just not sure late era Radiohead has anything to do with that.

    My concern is that it’s too easy to just do what you want and label it art — or modern art or whatever — and make people accept it because you’re an “artist.” How else do you explain Jackson Pollack and his ilk?

    And I’m not sure Radiohead did anything for the industry at large, though that’s obviously impossible to measure.

    As far as your assesment of Kid A goes, you’re obviously far more open minded than stingy old me. And, quite possibly, a better person.

  4. Joshua

    I guess all this leads in to the inevitable argument of defining “art”. I’m definitely not a better person than you Matej, it just sounds like I spent some more time really listening to that record and taking a lot of inspiration out of it.
    You know who is a better person and more then qualified to make a judgment about “good” art or what makes an artist? Our gracious host Graeme. Let’s have a blog about it and hear what the man pulling our internet puppet strings thinks. What say you blogmaster?

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