As the latest move in their systematic attempt to flaunt every iota of existing record industry convention, Radiohead just announced that their new album will be coming out this Saturday. In a business where pre-release leaks have become the wink-wink way to drum up enthusiasm for the months running up to a release, there is absolute radio silence on this release. Nothing. The C.I.A. couldn’t manage this kind of security if they were releasing a record and yet one of the biggest bands out there has chosen this sneak attack.
As if this weren’t enough, Radiohead has also chosen to opt out of iTunes with this release.
So, as they have many times before (remember that they were the inventors of the pick your price play), Radiohead has dared us to decide whether they are genius innovators or just megastars who are insanely indifferent to incremental financial success.
The last week in the music world must have made Chris Anderson awfully happy. In the span of a few days, Girl Talk and J. Cole have crushed internet servers around the world as they have released two enormously-huge, entirely-free albums. These are not commercial albums that are ripped by fans and “stolen” via shady fileshare sites. Nor are they slapdash collections of not-even-b-sides table scraps. And they’re not even Radiohead-esque choose-your-own price gambits.
Rather, these are fully produced albums released by genuinely famous artists. Just like you would typically think about big album releases. Except they’re absolutely, unhesitatingly free. And, as such, they are both the clearest evidence yet that the savvy ones out there have completely embraced the fact that pre-recorded music is best-suited as advertising for other revenue streams.
Just-wait-a-second, you say. Didn’t Taylor Swift flip a million in a week? Yes, she did. But the lesson to be taken from Taylor’s success is her powerful use of social media to relate to a world of transitioning tweens, and the remarkable commercial resilience of country music. Oh, and she should thank Kanye.
What’s more remarkable and more accurate a reflection of culture is that J. Cole, with two successful mixtapes under his belt, the backing of Jay-Z, and a hyperventilating following on the blogosphere, chooses to drop Friday Night Lights as another free mixtape. Nearly a year in the rap limelight and he has yet to release a single song that costs a single cent.
Here are two songs off the “album.” They sound like finished songs that you might hear on the radio, right? Exactly.
As if this weren’t enough, Girl Talk threw a new album of genre-defying, mega-mash-up fun into the world today. Unless you’re patient and crafty on the internets, you don’t have a hope of getting this down from Girl Talk’s overloaded servers anytime soon. But yet, I bestow upon you two tasty treats from the guy I’ve already proclaimed as the preeminent party DJ of this decade. Damn, this guy is fun.
Leading artists, using pre-recorded music to melt the internet in ways that propel them to even more fame and promote their concerts and their brand. This is the new school.
Hey, as I sign off, I’m sorry about the extended absence. I feel especially bad because I just checked traffic and it has stayed solid despite nothing new to look at. I’m gonna make amends, I promise. Even if it’s just to share new tracks… because I have a backlog of goodness to get out there.
I think I’ve found my new we’re-a-new-team-out-to-dinner-and-conversation-is-waning question to ask the table: what is a song that describes you?
Where would people go with that question? Let’s play it out, shall we?
Someone would quickly lay claim to a Wilco track, leaving the person next to them with their Radiohead back-up choice. Two folks consecutively would pick songs their kids love; supportive smiles would spread around the table. There’d be a guy whose tellingly-long explanatory prelude wouldn’t quite defuse the awkward pause that would ensue after he shared his Indigo Girls choice. And, inevitably, the khaki-clad guy next to him would leap in right after Mr. “Closer to Fine” to share his Clipse track, beaming with pride at his moment of seeming all tough and stuff. There’d likely be someone who would share a deeply-obscure world music track, because it’d lead right into you asking about her junior year abroad.
Me? I’m going with this one. I used it to open my radio show every week for a few years back in college, and while the references are dated the song still rings true. The occasionally all-enveloping world of the music fanatic.
After months of delay, here’s the most recent installment of the holiday mix series.
For the newcomers out there, I’ve been making mix CDs instead of holiday cards over the past several years. It’s always a wide range of genres, with a focus on the unreleased, the re-mixed, and the under-appreciated.
For the old timers, you’re correct in pointing out that we’re a bit beyond Christmas, and this isn’t even a CD per se. We’re going to give digital distribution a whirl, with one single track recording, and another version with rough track increments slotted in there.
I hope this mix brings some surprises, smiles, and artists that you’ll enjoy for months to come.
Feel free to drop comments in if you hear something you like. Enjoy, y’all.
Here’s the link the the continuous mix. It’ll take a while to download, no doubt.
Jay-Z is far and away my favorite rapper. The thing is, being a fan of the world’s most popular rapper doesn’t leave a lot of room to say or play anything that hasn’t been played out. But, in this post (the second of this Music+Moments series), I’ll try to give some surprising glimpses into Hova– highlighting the innovator that sometimes gets lost in the megawatt glare of him as a superstar, husband, and business… man.
In only 8 and a half minutes, this clip demonstrates how Jigga can invite Prodigy, Memphis Bleek, Amy Winehouse, AC/DC, and others to come play in his world. It’s also a fantastically-funny retort to Liam Gallagher’s (of Oasis) complaint that a rapper could never headline Glastonbury. One review called this show the best concert in a decade; another referred to it as a master class in live performance. I just call it #1 on my wish-I-could’ve-been-there list.