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The Net: Killing Music Labels Since 2007

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Radiohead kicked open the door, Trent Reznor is in the foyer admiring the chandelier, and bands like Oasis, Jamiroquai, and The Charlatans are rolling up the street looking for the party.

"One likes to believe in the freedom of music, but glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity."
-- Geddy Lee sings of the evils of music labels, from "The Spirit of Music"

The rocking virtual house on the Internet looks like a House of Blues to the major labels that have squeezed fans and artists for decades. Shed no tears for an industry that thought $18.99 and up was a brilliant price to charge for CDs.

Artists who are free from their contractual obligations to major labels can choose to experiment with how they want to distribute their music. Prince put a couple of million free CDs in a British newspaper, and sold out concert after concert in London.

The move by Radiohead to offer In Rainbows at a name your price rate has been followed by Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor hinting at distributing his music in a non-music label kind of way.

That crack in the music label’s wall of control shows signs of spreading. The Telegraph named Oasis and Jamiroquai as a couple of bands ready to emulate Radiohead’s example.

The story also cited Alan McGee, manager of The Charlatans, in suggesting that his band and acts like famed Manchester scenesters Happy Mondays may be positioned to follow the Radiohead example.

“How do you get them profile?” he asked, regarding these bands that were once big but simply do not get the exposure of other acts. “You give away the record.”

Oasis has been very big, definitely in the conversation when talking about Radiohead or NIN, and their next single will be a download-only track. They can offer an iTunes-like price, but instead of watching a label chow down on 70 percent of the sale, or more, Oasis keeps the money, less expenses.

We would be thrilled to see vociferous Napster critics, Metallica, follow this example. It would be a nice way to apologize for ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’.

The Net: Killing Music Labels Since 2007
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