Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails
Drop Their Labels
by Alex Cosper (2007)
The writing on the wall is getting more and more clear that recording artists don't need
record labels anymore to get their music to the masses. In October 2007 both established
alternative artists Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have announced they are releasing their
music on their own from now on without the help of a giant record label.
to turn the music industry completely upside down recently with the digital release of their
new album In Rainbows, in which consumers can set their own price and then download
the digital album. Of course, being established already through the old system of record distribution will help both artists
much more than struggling artists trying to get heard in the new digital paradigm.
Another stunning development that signals a change in the way music is sold is the rising profile
of TuneCore, which allows artists to sell their own music through online music stores such
as i-Tunes and Rhapsody.
For a small one-time fee artists can finally bypass all the rip-off companies
that offer the same service at a much higher price. Plus, artists get to keep all the revenue they
generate from sales after the store gets their small cut. What this means is that the old world
record label exploitation of artists is approaching a crossroads with justice.
With the arrival of TuneCore and popular artists turning away from major labels, we can now consider
that the battered down music industry might be saved after all, not by the dying labels, but by
the artists and fans working together without the middlemen who are just there to take the biggest
slice of pie.
Either labels need to conform to the new culture of how artists and fans come together
digitally, or they're just going to have to continue sliding in quicksand. Sony BMG Music, second of the four
biggest labels behind Universal Music Group, recently reported an $8 million loss in quarterly net income.
Warner Music Group stock has fallen in half this year, while the overall stock market has experienced
its greatest rally of all time.
What appears to be a wave of independent experimentation in music distribution is beginning to splash
over into the mainstream. The reason the labels are completely to blame for their own miserable
downfall is that they have proven once again that greed is like poison, especially when it comes to music.