EMI & Radiohead: “Sticking It” to The Fans?

Yesterday’s entry was about the news of a majority of fans deciding that the right price for Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want experiment was zero, although now the band is disputing those figures.

So, if zero is sublime for fans, what’s ridiculous? A poster to Wired’s Listening Post music blog the other day got it right: “wow, an idea that comes so very close to being good!”

The reaction was to the announcement by Radiohead’s (ahem, FORMER) label EMI, which, announced in an innovative “digital box set” approach to all six of the English band’s releases on its subsidiary Parlophone: Pablo Honey, The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail To The Thief, plus the live album I Might Be Wrong.

So far, so good. Making a little hay while the sun breaks out over the In Rainbows hoopla. The words of Wired pick it up from here:

Unlike the digital version of In Rainbows, this box set has several high fixed prices depending on which format you choose: downloadable MP3 (320 Kbps, $70), a CD box set ( 7 discs, $80), or a 4GB USB drive (WAV files and artwork, $160). It’s odd that the CD box set costs half as much as the USB version, despite containing the exact same musical data.

“Odd” is putting it mildly. The fans are not amused:

$160 for a USB stick with music on it? Is that some kind of joke? A USB with a band’s entire back-catalogue: awesome idea, step in the right direction. That price is beyond insulting, though.

Yet another reason why the record industry resembles the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight…

Content Management

The 1992 Election was won on the simple-but-effective mantra: “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” Worth remembering as people alternatively gnash their teeth, wring their hands, or go all Google-eyed over all of the geeky techy innovations of the Wired world: What actually is the stuff that we’re putting into those handy little boxes of code and shooting all over the world into fancy gadgets? I’ve noticed that Web people tend to talk about “content” as if it were a commodity, like “coal” or “rice” or “grass.” The reality, of course, is that “content” is PROGRAMMING, which involves heads and hearts and taste and passion. Reason for this rant: A great line from Jerry Del Colliano‘s Inside Music Media blog today:

The thought of a TV network as first and foremost a delivery system is as frightening as a mobile phone company being a content producer. But in our interactive day and age, smart people are making not so smart decisions.

Bingo. Subsitute the word “programming” for “content” in the above line and you have a truly scary scenario. Making good, high-quality, original programming is hard, time-consuming, and often expensive. I’d rather have my phone company fixing the miserable battery life in my so-called Smartphone then sending me a “V-cast.”

Rest of del Colliano’s post is not on this topic, but more about how the media barons are missing the point of today’s most important consumers:

The real problem is a lack of understanding of the very generation that has foisted all this change on the media barons — Gen Y? How can media barons make business decisions with implications so dire that they forgot to consult with the next generation? To get to know them a bit better is an eye-opener. It’s more than they are demanding, impatient and fickle. It turns out that they are proving to be wiser than the media barons in many ways.

Gen Y is bringing the record industry to its knees — latest example is the coming demise of digital rights management (DRM).

Gen Y all but banished terrestrial radio to being irrelevant for neglecting them and focusing on consolidation instead. They’ve got nothing against satellite radio — they just can’t afford it. And if they could, they’re waiting for WiFi to make everything that’s free on the Internet portable in their lives.

Newspapers — forget it. No young person is going to hold in their hands what they can click with their fingers and read.

Ouch! I happen to love reading the newspaper – always have, always will. But I think he’s absolutely right.