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i’m as big a radiohead fan as anyone… but i’m ready for thom and the guys to go off the deep end. they have been muddling around in the details for a while, and i want a radiohead album consisting of blues standards and beatles covers.
A few opinions I have about the state of things:
-The amount of money made by major rock bands pre-internet was probably artificially inflated due to the major-business strategies of record labels, and artifically high $20+ prices for CDs.
-Pre-internet there may have been more wealth, but it was probably concentrated in fewer bands, in less diverse bands, and bands probably had less control over their own music and image.
-While it may still be difficult for a band like Grizzly Bear to receive major radio play, it is probably mostly due to the increased accessibility of music today that bands as interesting as them are able to consistenly play large festival sets, sell their music for major advertisements, and consistantly sell out mid-range venues (another example, Crystal Castles started out as a posting of somewhat unfinished tracks on myspace; fans now have a bigger part in dictating who is big and it is largely due to a raw appreciation of the music, which I think is nice). mainstream new music largely used to be disseminated based on what record executives predicted might have been a radio hit and what might be worth marketing (there has obviously always been an “indy” scene, but I don’t think it was the same as today, with hallmark “indy” bands sometimes drawing crowds of 40k+ at festivals etc)
-While a band like Grizzly Bear probably never would’ve seen the success they are seeing now in a pre-internet, major-record-label era, their success is now less financially meaningful due to the double edged sword of the level of free music accessibility. The overall collective of fans pays much less for music, and pays much less often. without that initially free exposure, the band might never have gotten so big (people aren’t realistically going to buy all 15,000 songs in their iTunes libraries, but as an up and coming band its probably a better marketing tool, and more artistically satisfying, to have people hear your music for free than not at all), but now that they are big the free exposure limits their monetary success, and they have all the financial burdens of a major touring act.
I guess the question as fans is what we can do about this? The internet has unquestionably resulted in a proliferation of genres and a mainstreaming of artistic creativity, and the fact that bands like grizzly bear, dirty projectors, tune-yards, etc now sell out large venues, when in a pre-internet environment they probably would not have ever even made it to the 930 club. I saw grizzly bear just a few weeks ago, and bought one of their shirts, but I have also never paid a dime for a grizzly bear song, and it definitely disappoints me to hear that they have such a financially slim margin. Honestly, I sort of hope that concert ticket prices go up a bit. I personally value live shows a huge amount, and would be completely willing to pay $30-$40 to see an awesome grizzly bear show rather than the $15-$25 that I tend to be charged for shows right now.