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[28 October 2007]


SUPERSTARS LEAVE MAJOR LABELS [fr. Rolling Stone, #1038 Nov 1 '07.]
"Inside Radiohead's Biz-Shaking Release" By Brian Hiatt and Steve Knopper, ed. George McClure & AC Inc.

The band cuts out the middleman, lets fans pick their price The latest shock wave to hit the music industry started in guitarist Jonny Greenwood's kitchen on Sept. 30'th, when he sat down at his computer and made a quick post to his band's blog: "The new album is finished, and it's coming out in ten days. We've called it In Rainbows."

Radiohead, one of the world's biggest unsigned bands when their EMI contract expired in '03, launched a new website ( where fans pay whatever they want for downloads of the new album. Also available for $80 is a plushly packaged disc box with 8 extra tracks, vinyl, and a book.

Other artists jump from the major label ship
Madonna left Warner Bros for an unconventional deal with Live Nation; Nine Inch Nails recently ended their contract with Interscope; and Stone Gossard, guitarist for Pearl Jam, who are also not tied to a label, told Rolling Stone "I think it's fantastic" when asked his opinion of the Radiohead blitz.

Natalie Maines, sometimes outspoken lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, said "I love it. I'm sure this scares the labels to death. No matter what people give them for it, Radiohead is guaranteed to make more money off their album than they ever did when they were signed."

Madonna's move is innovative and portentious of things to come in the music industry. It focuses on touring, leaving CDs and music sales as primarily a promotional device. She will receive 90% of ticket sales, $50 - 60M for three new albums, and a $17.5M advance. Under the old business model, major labels take up to 90% and more of record and music sales, and a portion of tours and other associated income.

Madonna, 49, will give Warner one more studio album and a hits disc.

"A lot of managers are hoping the future will take us in the direction of Radiohead - where artists are more in total control of all theire music" says sr. music vp for Korn and Linkin Park, Peter Katsis. Others are more cautionary, pointing out that record labels may remain important for smaller than superstar acts, providing CD sales and promotion.

[c. McTrow Ltd. 28 Oct 07]

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