Thom Yorke certainly didn't think labels needed saving when he told Time in 2007, "I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'F**k you' to this decaying business model."
The above comment came was just as the band prepared to independently release their album In Rainbows in 2007, having recently fulfilled their contract obligations with EMI. In addition to a pay-what-you-will digital download, the band made In Rainbows available an $80 special edition "discbox." While many users opted to pay nothing for the digital release, the band reportedly sold 100,000 copies of the physical discbox.
While upcoming artists can't expect their fans to shell out $80 for a box set, the ease with which music files can be shared and transferred demands that artists turn their attention to live performance and other forms of merchandising in order to support their craft.
Yes, Spotify and other music distribution services should pay the artists a fair price for featuring their work on the streaming services. But the democratization of media often demands that we reexamine and sometimes overturn the business models of previous decades—not just translate them to the virtual space.
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