Led Zeppelin Modernizes, Radiohead Evangelizes

Thank you Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for opening your catalog to digital downloads. Led Zeppelin gets started this week on Verizon Wireless but, come November 13th, will also make songs available via iTunes and other services. Kevin Tofel, of jkOnTheRun, has loaned me his Zune so I may try out the all-you-can-eat Zune Pass if they get the Led out.

Even more progressive, and as you probably already know, Radiohead started selling their album online last week… for whatever price one chooses to pay. They managed to move 1.2 million downloads in the first 48 hours, though 1,200,000*0=0. Seriously, I’m sure they did bring in some money while cutting out the middle man. (This approach wouldn’t work for newer, lesser known, or lesser loved bands.) They’ve also generated a ton of press and goodwill, which will probably fill their coffers via concert ticket and merchandise sales. Oh yeah, you have to give up your contact info to make a purchase – which probably has an intrinsic value. However, it IS very cool to see the music industry continue to experiment as they fight to remain profitable in the age of BitTorrent.

6 thoughts on “Led Zeppelin Modernizes, Radiohead Evangelizes”

  1. Dave,

    I disagree about whether the Radiohead experiment is applicable to smaller bands. I think the honor-roll system is a great way to distribute non-DRM music. I imagine lots of people are put off by the high price of content (even $10 is a lot of money to a lot of people), especially knowing that the vast majority of that money goes to someone other than the composer and performer.

    What difference does it make if people pay $2 directly to the artist for an MP3 download or $10 for a CD, which they will then rip? It makes a huge difference if the artist is indebted to the label and never sees a dime of that $10. It also makes a big difference if a person who wouldn’t lay down the money for a CD does lay down even a buck for a download. $1 or $2 beats $0 every time!

  2. The problem isn’t the honor system, the problem is how do those smaller bands advertise and benefit from a critical mass if no one’s ever heard of them?

  3. I think the new/small music artist question is the important one for sure. Getting exposure and “airtime” on the regular radio, satellite radio and internet will be what those smaller and newer artists will still need help with.
    However, I don’t see how the music industry as it stands today will be able to get up-and-coming artists to sign contracts that take away those artists ability to at least get a cut from the profit of their music.
    Maybe something like this would work for those artists: a PR/talent-finding firm that gets a cut of future profits in return for promoting their music and getting them attention. Seems like that would be a much better deal for the artist then the current system where the record company pays an up-front fee to the artist per album and then gets all future profits.
    I’m no expert here so feel free to tell me where I’m wrong here :)

  4. It seems to me that in these days of MySpace and YouTube, an up and coming artist can actually outperform a traditional music PR approach. Combine a rabid (but maybe micro) Internet fanbase, lots of touring, and an honor-roll MP3 download system and I bet a micro-band could earn far more than a traditional label arrangement.

    On the other hand, lots of bands keep signing label deals, so maybe I’m crazy!

  5. I’ll stay out of the DRM-fight for this round and just say that why would I buy a Zep track digitally when I can rip the huge box sets I bought back in the 90’s.

    Also, if they get released on iTunes and aren’t as iT+, then that’d be a real shame (it won’t happen, stupid WEA).

  6. Big John, I also have a box set (purchased in the early 90s) of every CD. But two have warped and can’t be ripped. I’m too lazy to get those discs off ebay … which is what I should have done. So I’ll pay the $20 for convenience.

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