UK Band Sanctions Free Distribution Of Album, Reaps Rewards In Column Inches Instead Of Cash

Apr 30th, 2007 // 6 Comments

crimea.jpgSince people seem to be pretty into the whole “music should be free” concept these days, the UK band The Crimea‘s experiment, in which it’s planning on giving away copies of its album in the hopes that they’ll make up the revenue on non-music items, is garnering a not-insignificant amount of ink today. From
The Guardian:

By giving away the album in its entirety on May 13, the band hope to widen their fanbase and ultimately make more money from touring, merchandising and licensing deals than they would from sales of the album.

Despite selling a respectable 35,000 copies of their debut album, Tragedy Rocks, and making the top 40 with the single Lottery Winners On Acid, the band were last year dropped by their record label, Warner Music.

Like its major-label rivals, it is struggling with the structural changes to the record industry and, say critics, is increasingly unable to invest in long-term artist development.

The experiment is being watched closely by the industry and other artists struggling with the conundrum of how to make money at a time when CD sales are collapsing and margins are decreasing as a result of increased competition.

According to their MySpace page, the band is currently in Beijing, and their next two months are going to consist of one solid tour–one on which, they claim, they’re going to get a greater piece of the door-charge pie than they might have in the past. Will people go out to see them? Well, that depends on whether there’s a large live-music market for Conor Oberst devotees in the UK. (Seriously, there’s one song on there that sounds like Bright Eyes fronting the London Quireboys.) But what we’re wondering is how the album was financed. Was work on it started before or after the band got dropped from its major label? Did they have day jobs, or did they go into debt, Kevin Smith-style? Because it’s all well and good if their strategy pays off once the album was released–but we’re interested in how the act was able to get to this point in the first place, because that seems to be the key aspect of the “free-music” push that’s often overlooked.

(Confidential to the Guardian copyeditor who wrote this story’s headline: “Revolution”? What, are you fresh from the NME?)

Album giveaway could ignite music revolution [Guardian Music]

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  1. Jfrankparnell

    The only bands who don’t want to do this are those who dislike touring or who make no money doing it. Hence Wilco would be totally smart to leak their own album to bolster their profits where they stand to make the most in-house profit: touring. It’s over for the labels (in a shorter long run than they guessed) if, say, Radiohead and U2 follow suit. The former is threatening, and probably watching closely. Radiohead could meet costs on a homemade album with a two-night stand in Denver. And then some.

    It’s almost again like 50 years ago – tour profits went in your pocket while the label ripped you off but got you on the radio. The current difference? You can get yourself on the web. No Alan Freed in the way. Yet.

  2. Reidicus

    This is purely rumor, but I do hear that Radiohead may be on the verge of signing with a large, new-ish, um, caffeinated label fairly soon.

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    A new weekly post for Nothing But Green Lights. Which is, if you hadn’t already realised, solely dedicated to British music. This post is dedicated to tunes. A round up of the best British music that people are talking about on blogs and podcasts around the world.

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