"Record stores"? What are those? Judging from actions by bands as seemingly disparate as Radiohead (left) and the Eagles, record stores are obsolete.
Just this morning, it was confirmed that Radiohead's new album, In Rainbows, will be available on Oct. 10 — but only through radiohead.com. You can preorder the album in two different versions: as DRM-free MP3 downloads or in a "Discbox," which, according to the band's PR agency, "includes double-vinyl and CD versions of the record and a second, enhanced CD with additional new songs, artwork, and photographs of the band, all exclusive to the box. Anyone purchasing this deluxe edition will automatically receive the bundled MP3 album on Oct. 10." The box will ship "on or before" Dec. 3, according to the band's site.
The Discbox will sell for 40 pounds (about $80). But get this: The Oct. 10 download-only version will sell for . . . apparently, whatever you want! That's right! How much is the new Radiohead album worth? "It's up to you," says the band's site.
Talking about devaluing music.
But let's get back to those things called record stores . . .
According to the PR statement: "Radiohead is currently planning a traditional CD release of In Rainbows for early 2008."
Let me get this straight, guys: You're going to allow downloads of the entire album for two full months — at whatever price the downloader wants. You're also going to distribute a boxed set of CDs and vinyl for at least a full month. And then — then, months later, after the holiday shopping season — you're going to allow a "traditional" CD to show up in traditional record stores.
I can just hear those record stores now:
"Gee, thanks a lot, guys — but no thanks."
Of course, that traditional CD will most likely have additional "additional" songs, forcing fans who bought the download and the box to buy the album for a third time — which is the way of the world these days. The stupid, insulting-to-fans way of the world.
Then there's the case of the Eagles. Finally, a mere 28 years after its last studio album, the band is releasing Long Road Out of Eden on Oct. 30. But you won't be able to buy it at a record store. You'll have to go to — oh joy, oh rapture — Wal-Mart. Or Sam's Club. (Or eaglesband.com.) Not only that: The exclusive will last for an entire year.
Don't get me wrong: I love both Radiohead and the Eagles. But I hate what they're doing to record stores. Here we've got, on one hand, the No. 1 "alternative" band in the world and, on the other hand, the band with the No. 1 best-selling album in history. And both are saying "F--- You" to the record stores that helped get them where they are today.
And you wonder why the music industry is in trouble? Please.
If you're going to sell your music online for as little as a penny, why bother putting it in record stores several months later at all? It isn't worth anything anyway, right? —Ken Richardson
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