Has Radiohead missed the point?

Radiohead - Nude coverart Radiohead has once again hit the headlines with an ‘innovative’ new media way of promoting the band and the music. They have broken down their latest single ‘Nude’ into 5 stems (vocal, guitar, bass, drums, the rest) and made each available to buy exclusively at the iTunes music store for fans to download, remix and uploaded their mixes to the Nude Remix site.  Despite the media hype, the question to me becomes is Radiohead at the forefront of new media or the rearguard of old media?

I have a number of concerns with how Radiohead is approaching this release:

  1. The stems have to be downloaded individually, each at the cost of an individual track ($1.69 here in Australia), making it more expensive than some EPs.  Some people might think that this is still a fair deal (after all, how often do you get the chance to remix a track yourself?) but it doesn’t offer anything extra to the  buyer.  In times past, Nine Inch Nails have released multi-tracks for free (remix.nin.com has more information).  As a less extreme example price wise, BT released ‘The Technology’, 6 track EP of remixes and included the multi-track files for 3 singles of the album ‘Emotional Technology’ back in 2004.  Nine Inch Nails was free and BT added something extra.  Radiohead does neither.
  2. The stems are only available through the iTunes music store.  Big Radiohead fan but no iTunes music store in your country? Too bad, my friend. No remix for you.
  3. The Nude Remix terms and conditions are not very friendly at all.  You sign over all rights to the remix to Warner/Chappell Music (the publishers). It doesn’t specify if this only applies if you upload the track to the remix site. In my own experience, if it is not specified, it is a blanket approach.  Also, the Radiohead band members are given sole writing credit.  When you submit your remix, you can not ‘exploit’ it in anyway without prior approval of Warner/Chappell and Radiohead.  In other words, we own your song, you will receive no credit for your work and you can’t do anything with your own remix without permission.  To Radiohead’s credit, they do also undertake to not commercially exploit your work without contacting you first. Nice.
  4. There’s no competition or prize attached. While a competition or prize is not essential, in the context of the previous three points, throw your fans a bone guys!  Seriously. It doesn’t have to be a huge prize.  Maybe the best remix could get a signed copy of the the 7″ vinyl single, or something equally token but meaningful to a hard core Radiohead fan.  Surely that wouldn’t be too much to ask.  Instead, remixers get a guarantee that the ‘Radiohead will listen to the best remixes’.  Woo.

Are Radiohead reaching out to the fans by offering individually downloaded components, or are they taking 5 bites from the same cherry?  Is it innovative new media thinking or classic old media record label money grubbing?

What do you think?  I really want to know what other people think about remixing ‘Nude’

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4 Responses to Has Radiohead missed the point?

  1. Matthew Hall says:

    You have summed up and explained all the misgivings I felt when I first saw this news.

    You want me to buy your track 5 times *and* take all the credit??

    Seriously, who would really sign up for this kind of abuse voluntarily?

  2. shane says:

    It almost looks like a standard copperplate record label contract – indentured slavery really.

    My main complaint isn’t so much any one of the above but the fact that Radiohead put a big tick against all of them.

    Scariest thing? 1,027 remixes have been uploaded to the site so far.

  3. James says:

    I think Radiohead sucks anyway. Anything they do to further their career could only damage the world.

  4. shane says:

    I can’t say that I agree with you there, James. I know a lot of people out there share my view that ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’ are two of the most enduring classic albums of the 1990s.

    However, there are many people out there that buy Britney Spears or Jay-Z albums and I don’t share their view on what good music is, either.

    Still, each to their own. Care to share what you consider to be good music, James?

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