I am finally, officially, completely and utterly over Radiohead.
There is an article in Billboard today about how Radiohead’s back catalogue enjoyed a spike thanks to In Rainbows. This is the most non-news that news can get.
I don’t care if you’re Coldplay or Seasick Steve; if you put out a new record and don’t get a decent spike in the older albums, you might as well shoot yourself in the head right now. To give some perspective, a recent Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac promotion enjoyed a 1000% spike. It sold ten times more in one month than the month before. This is not news.
Except it is. Because it’s Radiohead.
I have a handful of records that have been given away. Wilco have been streaming albums for free since 2001 BEFORE release. Harvey Danger’s last wonderful record has been free, one of many American indie bands doing the same. Prince gave away his new album with a newspaper (granted that made the news). But so did Ray Davies. And the new Travis single.
Sure. I hear ya. The old “band at that level” clause. BUT, that’s the thing. They can get away with the financial risk. It’s no risk at all really. It’s really easy to be charitable from the Ivory Tower.
And lets talk about what didn’t work with the In-Rainbows-Oh-God-Everything-Is-Over model. No preview? You could have been buying anything. Which for me screams that this is not about the music. It’s about the band, and the brand. This past week, the Eagles debuted at number 1 on just about every chart in the planet. Radio play? TV? What drove the sales? The Eagles name.
And Radiohead are becoming the Eagles.
And they are continuing to appeal to just their fanbase. This back catalogue boxset. That just smells of the Eagles. Expensive deluxe versions of the albums, aimed t the people who already own them all.
Any why donations? Why not give the record away? That charitable band of rich people just earned a lot of money. Let’s not forget that major fact that they are laughing their way to the bank.
You might not agree with me. That is fine. But all this talk about Radiohead being the future… they have presented a new way of releasing music into the world. Fine. They have given us one way.
And I don’t agree with it. If anything, it’s made me think about what I value in the music-to-listener process, and Radiohead goes against everything I believe in. Paying for music. Choosing track by track. Previewing; that is allowing people to judge you on your music (first two, heart of the iTunes model).
I believe in music for everyone. Putting your album in record shops and supermarkets so some 12 year old kid can get it. In having your music exposed far and wide, first and foremost.
The coolest thing you can do in my world is to put out some corker song on a cheap single and put it everywhere, so everyone can hear it and anyone can buy it if they want. Radiohead is the opposite of this.
Radiohead has released no music, made a multimillion payday on the faith of their fanbase, and can happily give up now. Why even try and push the album any further. I guess most of those people will buy the box et next year.
Anyway, all this Radiohead business has made me sick to the stomach. Word is Oasis may do the same. And that’s when I will opt out. That’s when you’re too fat and have started eating yourself.
So before you continue being dazzled by these Radiohead figures, please, think about what you believe in music, and how it should get to people, and ask yourself how well Radiohead’s ideas gel with yours.
Don’t follow. Think. They might be wrong.
If you think Radiohead are just doing what they are feeling as right, and it’s the media that has caught on this story, then…well, you’re not naïve. That’s fine. But in the end they are still doing what they think is right, and I’m allow to challenge that.