The tidal wave is forming and at its head are bands like Radiohead, Oasis and The Charlatan’s are riding the crest waves of music that can now be freely downloaded without fear of RIAA storm troopers breaking down your door.
As is being pointed out by folks like Mike Masnick at Techdirt this free music is only a part of the larger experience that these front runner bands have figured out how to make the money from. Bands like Radiohead have figured out that while the euphoria of free music will bring the people to the door – so to speak – it is the packaging of the band experience via special CDs, concerts and anything else that can be merchandised to enhance the music’s popularity.
The problem is that there seems to be this thought that the failure of the music business – aka music labels – was a reluctance to jump on the free music bandwagon when in fact this was a by-product of a larger problem. Which was for the longest time the music industry has been pumping out and charging ridiculous prices for crap music.
When I first started collecting music back in the days of vinyl it was commonly accepted that at least one; two at the most, tracks on the LP would be crap and usually stuffed onto the B-side of the LP. Over the years this ratio has slowly changed to the point that the majority of the time you are lucky if even half the songs are worth listening to. We became nothing but cash cows for the music industry as we lined up obediently with every big release and plunked over our hard earned money because we had no alternatives.
Then came the Internet and suddenly we had a way to thumb our noses at the industry that had been bleeding us dry and get only the songs we felt were worth listening to. The days of the 45 single had returned albeit in electronic form.
The smart bands have recognized this and to their credit have also realized that they are going to have to be able to provide more than just a couple of songs in order to maintain their positions as leaders in this new music industry that is forming.
Contrary to how people like Chris Messina may think this is the new Open Web Media and all the warm and fuzzy feeling it might imply the truth is that it is just a new way to make the same old thing – money. Only this time around we aren’t having to pay for crap.
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