radiohead's website with its pay-as-you-wish digital download screen

echoing the unprecedented act of the recent radiohead's pay-as-you-wish digital download for their latest album, local chinese pop singer, penny tai, has also announced that she won't be releasing CDs anymore. instead, fans will find her singles being released periodically online for downloads.

these are shocking announcements by mainstream artistes. these must be the biggest experiments in digital-era music industry to date. have they grown tired of the middle-man (record labels, distributors, retailers)? or are they catering to their core fans who have stopped buying CDs? what are people willing to pay for music? how many will pay full price? will people pirate it anyway?

so many questions, so few answers.

here's my take but you don't have to agree with me. i gather my experience from observing behavioral patterns in younger generation like my cousins who are all in their early 20s. these young chaps may like music but it is just one of the many pastimes that are fighting for their increasingly short attention span. they have 20 times more entertainment options than folks who are now in their 30s, 40s or 50s. they have no loyalty towards any singer/artistes/bands. music to them is totally disposable - like it, download it, don't like it, trash it! it is only a mouse click's away from the recycled bin. they don't collect music like the older folks do; they are simply too busy.

true, the population of music listeners have increased many folds compared to that of a decade ago (and we have the downloads, mp3, ipods to thank), but does it represent an increase in CD sales? no way! so by making it free for online download, it does mean more young people are getting exposed to your music but does it mean these young folks will fork out money to buy it? i seriously doubt so.

i know, i know, there is another side of the argument. music labels have been having it easy for too long by charging $40 a CD with one good track and sue the customers for file-sharing. they claim that they needed the money to manage the artistes and pay all the overheads. i have no doubt that many young and net-savvy music lovers overseas are applauding radiohead's decision because these young music lovers respect intellectual property and are willing to pay for what they like. but in malaysia (and this part of the region) with our young citizens? you must be kidding!

as far as music industry is concerned, it is now living in the twilight zone. nothing is too obvious (except for the continued downward slide of CD sales and the merger/death of record labels) as to which "method" will prevail in the long run.


allenkhoo said...

well said.
I think the bigger losers would be audiophiles.Like everything else in life the most important thing now seems to be convinience.
Nobody cares about quality,principles,culture etc..anymore.

sam said...

Remember the early daysof cds where they promised you the perferct sound forever?
I think we are heading towards the same teritory here. I rtemember how some of my [less inteligent?]friends discarded their lps by the buckets ,only to cry a river later.You CANNOT have lossless[in true sense] music trnsfer over the internet. Trust me on this I am an engineer...

DS said...

there are increasingly more download sites that cater for audiophiles; since transitioning to a PC based front end, I, for one, would like to see progress in this area. Nowadays, I only buy audiophile CDs and spin it once; basically to rip it to my HDD.

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

recently, robert harley compared HDD served-based playback with CD and he said HDD playback sounds better!

we are going to write an article on HDD playback in the next issue of av xpress, keeping our fingers crossed ;-)

Keat Chong said...

Anyone know when this album will be released locally, already in amazon for pre-order and in 博客來online shop (England imported version)? I just do not want to pay for the scary handling fees.