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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Radiohead in fairyland

Radiohead Remember when I bought a copy of the Mail on Sunday so I could get Prince's new CD? Well the music industry is still struggling to come to terms with the digital age, but at least the smarter end end is now trying some new models.

Alan McGee, the brains behind Oasis, has come up with, err, the same model as Prince. "I know, why don't we give the new Charlatans CD away for free?"

Radiohead, being slightly smarter, have come up with a more interesting model: let fans can decide how much to pay, or whether to pay anything at all for their new album.

I wish I could be enthusiastic about these developments, but I'm sorry, beyond some free publicity, it ain't gonna work. Artists have to eat, and the majority of the great unwashed will not pay for something they can steal download for free. Let's apply the same nutty scheme to, oh, let's say, groceries. You can wander into Tesco and decide how much, if anything, you're going to pay for your weekly shop. Won't work, the store would go bust within a year.

So here's what the music industry should do. Get rid of the fat cats and freeloaders. Stop gouging the fans and charge fair prices for music and concerts which reflect the true costs of production and distribution, plus a sensible profit margin. Embrace digital distribution channels to reduce costs further. Make digital content theft as socially unacceptable as mugging someone for their mobile phone. Stop pretending that the interweb is some sort of fairyland where the normal rules of human behavior don't apply.

Hat tip: Alun

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