Why Radiohead shaped the future and Gogoyoko will prevail

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Gogoyoko - ripped of ignitas.com artikel

If my calculations aren’t completely off Gogoyoko – the social music market place – officially launch in Iceland Friday, May 1, hopefully with the rest of the world to follow soon. Along with Radiohead’s revolutionary release of ‘In Rainbows’, Gogoyoko looks like one of the most interesting – and potentially most enduring – alternatives in a music business facing its biggest challenge ever.

When Radiohead (RH) released and gave away ‘In Rainbows’ back in 2007 it proved a couple of things in my opinion. First of all that you can make money by giving away your music, something often stated by Songs I Wish I Had Written label owner Martin J. Thörnkvist on the excellent blog Digital Renaissance. Second, that there’s a new social conscience developing (or has it always been there?) among that online generation and a half who are used to a world where everything can be free.

I do realize that we’re dealing with a band with a massive and dedicated fan base, nevertheless what happened with ‘In Rainbows’ was quite stunning. On the day of its release alone, October 10, 2007, it was downloaded 1.2 million times with users paying an average of four pounds a pop, according to Gigwise.com. On top of that RH ended up selling more than 100.000 copies of the 40 pound deluxe vinyl box set you could pre-order while downloading the digital album plus an unknown number of the consequent regular CD release. You do the math.

This to me proves one basic condition of human nature, digital or medieval: Nobody really wants to be a mooch. I imagine that most diehard RH fans paid because they’re diehard fans, but when you’re offered to grab a service for free – as face to face the internet can be – by the man, woman or band behind it, you will at the very least consider paying something. Like my mate, Lars, who’s got no particularly heartfelt connection to RH and still paid around five pounds for a free album.

Another more recent example are Danish rockers Superfuzz who gave away their latest album and consequently sold, according to themselves, a surprising number of CD’s – proving that you don’t have to be a massive international act to benefit from this model. As long as you have a product worth paying for.

Fan-band relationships pays
It’s all about the band-fan relationship. With the internet artists are no longer out of reach and, more important, no longer immediately associated with big, bad corporate labels – who’s main task in this ongoing online trench war is to change their image. But that’s another post. People now communicate and deal directly with the artists via MySpace, Facebook and other social media services. Like Gogoyoko.

I have no illusions that these services and the Radiohead model can or will put an end to piracy. In fact, it turned out that illegal downloads of ‘In Rainbows’ surpassed the legal on RH’s own website. However, a survey published last week, on the day the people behind The Pirate Bay were sentenced, by the Norwegian School of Management, BI, show that those downloading free and/or illegal music buy ten times as much legal music from pay-sites like iTunes. At least in Norway.

This, along with the suggested new social conscience, have me believe in the RH model and Gogoyoko. Although there’s the difference between the two that the artists can charge what they like instead of having fans pay what they like, Gogoyoko and the artists and labels signing up have every chance of building a strong community around the music that in turn will mean increased sales.

Because we as music fans and consumers will deal directly with the artist and because the people behind the market place not only offer a “groundbreaking revenue split”, but also have embraced Corporate Social Responsibility, supporting various charity and environmental organizations.

Of course this success depends on the service and artist roster provided. The first we won’t be able to check before they launch, but the latter looks very promising when glancing at the artists and labels who have already shown their support and supplied tracks for the temporary player on gogoyoko.com.

And now the 64.000$ question: What do you think?


8 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. I think you’re right. Where is my 64.000$ (I would like them in €)?

    When the Danish band Dizzy Mizz Lizzy broke through (in Denmark at least) in the beginning of the good old nineties, the main reason was that they had allready established themselves as a supreme live band. A break through today is much more complicated.

    I wouldn’t say that giving away your music for free works for everybody – on the contrary. There is so much crap music for free around, and spamming listeners with various offers of devious character won’t help either.

    While sipping his red wine and smoking his cigarettes my father would say: “Always work hard, my son – it pays of in the end”. As a part of my teenage rebellion I still try to prove him wrong – but nevertheless, I think it is true in the music industry. If you have a product worth paying for – you will get your money eventually (a bit simplified I know…).
    Radiohead shaped the future – perhaps. But I don’t think that this is the only way nowadays – first of all you would have to have music worth purchasing and second you can start wondering how to promote it.
    Giving it away is just promotion.

    Thank you very much for a good article!

  2. Of course you need to have something worth paying for – that’s a given (and stated above) – and a free track here and there is “just” a (very, very cheap) promotion tool as you say. However, assuming that you as an artist have something worth my money, the Radiohead-way has immense potential for all sizes and shapes of acts. Perhaps even more for the smaller.

    I look at it this way: With the internet buying music has become very much like buying a car. Nobody in their right mind would ever buy a car without test driving it at least once – and the music business is probably the only business in history that has never had to offer that option.

    Remember when we were young? The choices were limited to buying the single or the full album and the only chance we had to find out if there was anything more than the single you liked was to listen to it in the record shop on crappy headphones. Or, threaten Thomas down the road to buy it and then copy it. How many albums have you bought that turned out to have no more than that one song? It’s all about the music and (young) people have never listened to so much different, out-of-the-mainstream music as they do today.

    My reason to bring Gogoyoko and such services into the equation is that they embrace the social aspect of the evolution. All music will be available for streaming (the test drive), the community will have playlists flowing between them and you buy directly from the artist by a click. On top of my statement above about the social conscience the “word of mouse” – a phrase coined by Thörnkvist – on these social platforms is the most powerful promotion tool there is. And if you throw in a free track people will listen ;o)

    Shit, this almost turned in to a post of its own, but the discussion is amazingly interesting and complex. Thanks for contributing, mate.

    (Oh, and about the money: I’m gonna have to owe you)

  3. Radiohead definitely opened up new models of getting your music out there.

    The next major band to follow & take it further than Radiohead was Nine Inch Nails with their Ghosts I-IV release. Trent gave price points for fans. They offered the first 8 tracks for free. If you wanted to hear the rest of the album, you pay $5 for a digital copy of the album. $10 if you wanted a physical copy of the album. $30 for a deluxe cd & $300 for a limited edition box set of the release of which there were only 3000 box sets. These box sets were numbered & signed by Trent. They all sold out.

    What did Trent do for his fans for his next album, The Slip? He released it for free on his website as a thank you for your support. He has my loyalty for LIFE.

    Have you heard of Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls fame? (www.amandapalmer.net) She created a 9-video preview series of her album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer that she released over on her youtube channel in the weeks leading up to her album release.

    Purchasing the album directly over her website, she followed Trent’s model of different price points. $5 digital copy, $10 physical copy, $30 physical copy + shirt + extras & 672 limited copies of a package including a signed litho, a book she collaborated with Neil Gaiman on which will feature autographs from BOTH Amanda & Neil, shirt, signed vinyl & an alternate album of WKAP that featured the initial demos & unreleased songs.

    Recently, Canadian band Metric decided to forgo releasing their latest album via a major label. They released the album on their own through their website. They too used the price point model that Trent developed.

    I’m sure there are MANY more bands out there that are following this approach & this is going to be an interesting time for the music business, the internet & the relationship between musician & fans.

  4. Excellent examples on the new world – thanks for bringing them to the table, Kay (didn’t know about Ms Palmer) – all showing that it’s about added value, exclusivity and building a relationship. As you say, Trent now has your loyalty forever…

    Thanks again for adding to the discussion,

  5. * “those downloading free and/or illegal music buy ten times as much legal music from pay-sites like iTunes. At least in Norway.”
    – Ehm, no. The survey say that those downloading buy ten times more than _those_who_never_download_.

    As the possible correlation between “never downoading” and “not being much of a music buff” isn’t examined I can’t say anything precise, but doesn’t it stand to some form of reason that music junkies that doesn’t download are pretty much a non-existing species? 😉

  6. Hehe… I think that would be a reasonable assumption when talking music junkies. About your correction, I would think the “those_who_never_download”-part is implied as the natural counter to “those who download…”.

    Also, you don’t have to be “much of a music buff” to download music. The survey asked 1901 people from 15 and up and if we look at the part of the population consuming most music I would think we’re looking at the 12-25 year olds (unless something has changed radically since I was that age). And they download – junkies or not.

    But thanks for specifying and contributing, Mabande.


  7. Excellent ideas 😉

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