03 October 2007

Radiohead bypass the record companies

Radiohead announced the release of their new album, In Rainbows this week. And surprisingly it will only be available as a download (or you can order a special box set, pictured above), which you must register for and decide how much you want to pay for it yourself! Register here, available to download 10 October 2007

It's the latest in a long list of artists that have benefited from new media, whether by passing the traditional delays that going through record companies can create, or using it as a promotional tool to get your new band noticed.

Obviously Radiohead have benefited from years of promotion and industry backing during their time with Parlophone but here is a list of artists who have used the internet to their advantage:

  • Radiohead's new album available via the internet only.
  • The Arctic Monkeys built up such a fan base via releasing tracks via their MySpace page. They got such a following, with the demo tracks passing between peer-to-peer sites, that their first single, I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor went straight to number one in the charts when it was released and their album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is the fastest selling debut album in British chat history.
  • Prince annoyed music retailers by offering his latest album, Planet Earth, free to anyone who bought tickets to his 21 night residency at the Millennium Dome... I mean the O2 Arena and also gave it away free with the Mail on Sunday. Some retailers even stocked the newspapers so as not to lose out.
  • Indie rockers Ash have decided their latest album will be their last so they can concentrate on releasing single download tracks. They believe it will be more spontaneous, more creative and prevent the time wasted getting the music to their fans by the traditional route.
  • Folk singer Sandi Thom's rise to fame was accelerated by live web casts from her MySpace page. It wasn't the DIY approach it was made to look though as she had major backing from her record company to get the streaming capabilities right but it still used new media in a way that had been ignored by the majors previously.
  • Despite reasonable sales for their debut album Lottery Winners on Acid, The Crimea's record company dropped them so they financed and promoted their next release themselves. The free download album was downloaded over 60,000 and their gigs had and marked upturn in attendance.
  • Virtual on-line community Second Life has hosted a few major concerts, including U2 and Duran Duran but it was Suzanne Vega who first saw the potential of having virtual, invite- only concerts when her avatar played "live" on her virtual island (see video below).

  • Manchester indie band The Charlatans have announced their next album will be release on download only, after releasing a free single Cross My Path. Declining sales are the excuse and live performances and merchandising are seen by their record label, Creation, to be the main revenue areas in the future. Which is great from the booming live music scene.

Suzanne Vega "live" in Second Life

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