Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sex Pistols were right

If EMI couldn't promote the Sex Pistols back when record labels were record labels, music was music and no one knew what "downloading" was, except that it sounded vaguely dirty, is it any surprise the company didn't know what to do with the latest OK Go video?

Back in 1977, the Sex Pistols
had the last laugh on EMI, and now OK Go is ready to do a little giggling itself. All the way to the bank, now that the group gets to keep all the profits.

YOU HEARD it first on NPR and All Things Considered:
Since the advent of streaming Internet video outlets such as YouTube, bands and record labels have repeatedly been at odds over how to address the issue that, when a user watches a video online, no money is generated for the label or the band. In an interview with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, OK Go singer-songwriter-guitarist Damian Kulash says that he — and the rest of the band — view videos not as a potential source of income, but rather as another creative outlet.

"This is all sort of part of the creative project for us," he says. "I mean, the animating passion for us is to get up and chase down our craziest ideas, and sometimes those are filmic, and sometimes they're purely sounds."

The band's label, EMI, didn't see things the same way. In an effort to maintain some control over the dissemination of the music video, EMI denied listeners the ability to embed it on their own Web sites and blogs. After receiving a deluge of complaints, the band eventually persuaded EMI to enable embedding. Soon afterward, however, OK Go parted ways with EMI to start its own record label, Paracadute.

WHAT ESCAPES bloated corporate collections of shortsighted moneygrubbers like EMI is this: The OK Go video isn't a revenue stream, it's free advertising.

The cost for putting it on YouTube? Zero.

The cost of producing it for the band? I'll bet it wasn't much, considering they got State Farm to sponsor it.

The promotional dividends from having it embedded on websites and blogs (like this one) everywhere? Limitless.

YOU WANT to know what's priceless, though? From now on, OK Go doesn't have to get nickeled-and-dimed by a record label that didn't know what to do with the Sex Pistols back in the day, and hasn't learned a damned thing in the intervening 33 years.

P.S.: One more thing. . . . Because of the promotional value of the video and the All Things Considered piece, I'm going to iTunes and buying the album. And the only credit EMI can take for that is indirectly, via the law of unintended consequences.

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