Last month Radiohead broke the industry mold when they decided to delay signing with a major label for their latest album "In Rainbows." Instead they released it on their website: pay what you like or take it for nothing. The physical CD will be available in a deluxe package at a later date. Given the current music climate, the thinking was they could deal directly with their fans and make more money by relying on their fan's goodwill.
Thus far they have exceeded a million downloads. No word on how many paid or what they paid, but the idea was quickly adopted by Nine Inch Nails, and Madonna recently signed an alternative arrangement with Live Nation
. In the midst of a click finger society, the music industry is changing, new marketing and distribution methods have to be worked out.
For established artists, offering high-quality, drm-free mp3 albums could be a legitimate way to continue making a living doing what they do. People are aware of who they are, know what name to type in a search engine, etc. For underground artists it's a little more challenging, how many people are going to search out X rapper/singer from West Bubblefuck, Anywhere USA?
But what about if you've got your head just above the surface? more..