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Thom Yorke: Music Industry Is Months Away From Collapse

radioheadRadiohead’s Thom Yorke – ever a voice in the wilderness, yeah? – granted a rare interview in February for a new high school textbook entitled The Rax Active Citizen Toolkit. The textbook is directed at encouraging young people to be more politically active, and the interview focuses on any tips Yorke might have for young musicians.

His advice: don’t sign on with a major label! Don’t struggle to find a record contract! “Don’t tie yourself to the sinking ship,” he says, “because, believe me, it’s sinking.”

Referring to a recent conversation with Radiohead bandmate Ed O’Brien, Yorke predicts that “it’s simply a matter of time – months rather than years – before the music business establishment completely folds.”

Months rather than years. And this is coming from people who know something of that which they speak. Radiohead got off the sinking ship quite a while back, breaking acrimoniously with EMI and releasing their seventh studio album, In Rainbows, online using a pay-what-you-like model.

The Featured Artists Coalition

Since Radiohead went rogue, guitarist Ed O’Brien has become the founding director of the Featured Artists Coalition, an organization dedicated to creating change in the music industry and protecting the rights of young artists.

The Pursuit of a Record Deal

ist2_234992-signing-contractDo you want a successful, stable and rewarding music career? Would you like to know exactly what record companies, producers, and management companies are looking for when seeking out new artists?

There are many great musicians who are not able to build a successful music career because they do not know what it is these companies want from them. As a result, many struggle and wonder why they are unable to “make it” even though they may be incredible musicians with great songs. What usually happens is that people start to believe the common myth about luck. They believe that you need to “get lucky” in order to “make it”. The result is that most musicians give up on their dreams and get a normal (non music related) day job.

Because you are reading this article, I can imagine that you have probably faced similar challenges. I know how you feel, because I went through the same depressing struggle for years and have seen hundreds of great musicians travel along the same path. But over time, I have discovered that in many cases the lack of success is caused by the musicians (including myself in the past) simply not knowing what it is the music business companies want from new artists.

Internet Songwriting

EmailBefore the days of internet – becoming a successful songwriter depended on a whole different set of factors. For example, as a non-performing songwriter, you would have needed to go out and find an artist or band willing to record your song, or have a music publisher get a cover for you.

As a performing artist, you would at least have had a vehicle for your songs subject of course to whether you or your band had a record deal.

A great deal of the “ifs and buts” of success would have depended not just on the commercial potential of your song, but on who was out there promoting for you, and how much marketing power your music publisher or record company (if you were an artist), had. Of course, much of that still applies today. So why has the internet had such an enormous impact on song writing, commercial recordings and tons of other commodities? I can tell you. Two things: digital, and distribution.