In it, Damian Kulash Jr. explains how EMI stopped allowing videos by Ok Go from being embedded. Their view is that each viw of that video should be subject to a royalty payment, of which they will be entitled to a hefty chunk.
However, Damian explains that without the viralty of their self-financed video for Here It Goes Again (the one where the band are all on treadmills), they’d have a smaller fanbase and potentially not be where they are today.
You can guess my stance on this. I am fully in favour of Ok Go creating music, videos, imagery etc and giving it away for free, allowing their fans to distribute it on their behalf, without having to pay their record company a penny.
I am of the belief that the actual asset is a means to an end – in a band you want to play music live to people; the more people you can get to turn up at your shows the more money you’ll get paid. Record companies make very little money from each gig a band does, which is why they want to protect their product, the actual recorded artifact, as stringently as possible.
However, an article appeared in the NME last week where an interview with Tom Meighan from Kasabian essentially said that the Internet has killed the mystique of rock and roll.
“I think – especially in the last three or four years – the internet’s taken a stranglehold and killed off the myth of the rock star now. You know when you used to buy the records and there was the myth behind them? There’s too much on blogs now and I think it’s killed it off. Nobody’s surprised by an interview anymore or anything. It’s quite tragic.”
He also said blogging has taken away the spirit of rock ‘n roll’. He told Bang Showbiz: “There are so many rock stars writing these self pitying blogs and it’s not in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s like ‘Wow, what rubbish’.”
And in parts, I agree with him.
I remember the first time I went to a gig (2000), I had no understanding of these mythical creatures that stood high up on the stage before me – I knew very little of their innermost thoughts other than what I’d read in the newspapers, and I put no consideration into the actual act of putting on the show. It was amazing.
Now I can garner every single piece of information i’ve ever wanted about a band from the Internet, and tied into my knowledge of how the ‘live product’ is delivered, the magic has disappeared and that to me is a great shame.
However, the Internet has changed the way that we consume media, and enabled us to get closer than before to our heroes. Had Noel Gallagher been writing a blog during that hectic 93-97 period, It would have made fascinating reading. We would also have got to see the other side of the tabloid circus that followed Oasis around at the height of Britpop.
It’s a double edged sword – do we want access to these guitar-playing demi-Gods, or do we want to be able to hold them up on an untouchable platform where there is just music and character?
I would rather have access and the ability to help show my support for an artist by sharing their music and videos with my friends who may in turn show up at a gig and soak up the full experience.
What can the record companies do then to stem the revenue flow that is going in the opposite direction?
They need to be savvier about the physical experience of buying a CD or a download, offer individual purchasers more ‘stuff’, be it additional tracks or artwork or exclusive merchandise. Record companies need to engage with fans. Polydor have a pretty good Twitter stream. It’s not great, but it’s a step in the right direction.
So can record companies become more personal?
What about offering their Twitter followers discounted downloads, or what about offering their followers the chance to hang out back stage – that cementation of the band/fan relationship will of course lead to more sales.
Whatever they do, they’ve got to realise that control of music and video is over and in the fans hands, if they don’t more and more artists will simply do it themselves and then the record companies will have no music to sell at all.