Why Radiohead shaped the future and Gogoyoko will prevail
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?