Thursday, June 12, 2008

Following up on Radiohead's experiment, and why Metallica SUCKS!

So I made a huge deal about Radiohead's last album being released on line. In Rainbows was a great work (which eerily lines up with OK Computer), but the band was pretty tight lipped about whether the digital download plan was a success.

A reader just sent in this BBC News article where U2's manager declares the experiment a failure:

The majority of fans who downloaded In Rainbows ignored the band's website and acquired it illegally by other means, Paul McGuinness told BBC 6 Music.

"Sixty to 70% of the people who downloaded the record stole it anyway, even though it was available for free."

U2's next album - due this year - would not follow the same approach, he added.
First off, I don't get how U2's manager gets to make this declaration. Even if the numbers are accurate, this perceived theft would probably have fallen in line with the number of people who would've downloaded the album for free any way. I know I had SERIOUS problems even accessing Radiohead's site the day the album went live.

Next the goodwill generated is completely incalculable. The spectacle of releasing a commercial work of this quality for free probably reached farther out than just Radiohead fans. I had quite a few friends who weren't Radiohead fans before, but enjoyed In Rainbows enough to check out their earlier work. I'm assuming there was a subtle "Napster effect" after In Rainbows release, with earlier albums experiencing a small sales bump.
Add that exposure to concert ticket sales, and sales of the hard copy of In Rainbows, and I think the download experiment has helped the band a lot more than some estimated loss of units sold could hurt it.
I found the last line of the BBC story telling:
The album went straight to number one in the UK and US when it became available on CD in January.

And speaking of "Napster effect" Metallica seems pretty resolute about continuing on their march to complete irrelevance.

Just after drumming up some buzz by embracing iTunes, and talking about trying their own NIN like download album release (making them the greatest flip-floppers of all time imho), they go and pull a stunt like this.
Ars is reporting on the bands inability to NOT piss off all of their fans who happen to use the web. First they invite music critics to review 6 tracks off their new album (I didn't even know there was another album in the works). Then they send the critics and bloggers off to write stories about those tracks. THEN the band's management threatens the bloggers who wrote reviews, and bullied them into taking those reviews down. Then the band makes an "official" statement on their website saying:
"Our response was 'WHY?!!! Why take down mostly positive reviews of the new material and prevent people from getting psyched about the next record... that makes no sense to us!'"

I stopped listening to Metallica after they embraced the litigious nature of the RIAA, and were brutally public about suing all of their fans. It was a sticky situation, and file sharing is stealing (not piracy though), but this was the wrong move to make. If they're played on the radio I change the station. The fact that they are considering following NIN and Radiohead, proves to me that their reputations (along with their album sales) have been damaged to the point where they need to eat some crow, make a magnanimous gesture. Great. Good for them.

This latest episode just shows that they still don't know what the crap they're doing with this whole intarweb thing.

I'll be adding them to my list of "no buy" along with Monster Cables and Creative sound cards...

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