Radiohead, Reznor Redux: 'Musicians Aren't Merchants'
January 21, 2008 at 3:24 PM (PT)
The biggest lesson of the do-it-yourself, pay-what-you-want music release experiments by RADIOHEAD and NINE INCH NAIL founder TRENT REZNOR can basically be boiled down to three words: "Musicians aren't merchants."
So says CNET NEWS reporter GREG SANDOVAL, who after analyzing RADIOHEAD's "In Rainbows" and REZNOR's collaboration with unknown rapper SAUL WILLIAMS, wrote "They also illustrated that the music business is probably better left in the hands of businessmen. Musicians are not the new labels. Artists need someone to provide financial support and business acumen. If we end up ridding the world of labels, we'll only have to re-create them -- in some other, probably more nimble form."
Musicians are not the new labels. Artists need someone to provide financial support and business acumen
REZNOR told SANDOVAL that he was "spending a lot more time being the business guy than the musician and I really don't like doing that ... What's unsettling is that you can't help fall into a familiarity with what works and what has worked. As much as one structure of a record deal is unfair and how little you get is bad, there was some comfort in knowing that things would work, that things like promotion and marketing would work."
After only a fraction of those who downloaded "In Rainbows" paid even half as much as the physical product, RADIOHEAD still managed to sell over 125,000 CDs out of the box. While many believe that validates the online experiment, the CNET reporter noted that "RADIOHEAD's manager, in an interview with THE NEW YORK TIMES, said he doubted the choose-your-price promotion would ever work again."
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