Radiohead Fight For Your Right To Download
British rock royalty and alternative icons Radiohead are putting their supremacy to good use in a bid against the music industries tight fore-closure of digital distribution rights.
And the Oxford born fivesome have some influential and formidable rally-mates to help the cause, including The Verve, Klaxons, Robbie Williams and former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmore.
The British acts have created The Featured Artists Coalition, which aims to help artists strike deals with record companies and digital distributors to create fairness involving rights and royalties.
The times are a-changin' and it's no secret that the digital music world has been fast declining record industry profits for some time. Among other things, artists are upset that record companies still deduct 'packaging costs' from royalty payments on digital downloads, which require no packaging.
You may remember last year, Radiohead split from record giant EMI. The move was finalised after Radiohead requested part-ownership of their six record cataloge (which in total amassed unit sales of 25 million). The request was declined by EMI heads, prompting the band to independently release their seventh studio album and distribute the highly anticipated follow up digitally.
'In Rainbows' was offered through a 'pay-what-you-want' scheme on October 10, 2007 made available on their official website. It was an unprecedented move, and one that was met with a mix of criticism and acclaim.
The downloads' commercial success is unclear, as the band decline to publicise their internet sales figures, though it seems the proof is in the pudding with artists all over the world quick to follow their stride.
Even Metallica have decided to go digital, a surprise to many after their highly publicised law suit against online download giant 'Napster', which arguably delayed the digital music evolution.
The Featured Artists Coalition will call on organisations such as the government and music companies, to fight for fair play and expose unfair practices in the industry.
Badly Drawn Boy star Damon Gough, who is also involved in the campaign, says, "I think with the digital and record companies dispersing and disbanding, young bands need a governing voice that will support them and help protect their work."
Many are wondering why it didn't happen sooner. "For us, this is a no-brainer and we believe all artists and musicians should be signing up," says Radiohead's Ed O'Brien.
This David and Goliath-esque battle could quite possibly be the single most important movement in music history. And with pioneers at the forefront of battle lines, there's every chance there's a victory on the horizon, perhaps changing the way we buy and listen to music forever.