For the past couple of years, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen to me that it was only a matter of time before a major music artist would eschew the record labels and go out on their own (see here, last paragraph). Well, three hammers fell down this week and they’re all pretty big news.

  • Trent Reznor, the horribly overrated yet popular noisemaker behind Nine Inch Nails, posted this message to his black-wearing minions this week on his website:

    Hello everyone. I’ve waited a LONG time to be able to make the
    following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally
    free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I have
    been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the
    business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very
    different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a
    direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate.
    Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008.
    Exciting times, indeed.

  • Madonna, whose latest personality is that of a quiet London mother writing children’s books, walked away from Warner Brothers to sign with concert kingpins Live Nation. For $120 million. It reeks of a traditional record label deal, yes, but Live Nation isn’t a record label, so this is big news. While it’s doubtful Madonna will try to establish a direct-to-consumer relationship like Trent Reznor will, this is notable – we’re talking about one of the best selling, iconic woman artists of all time here. Walking away from a record label. I like it.
  • Finally, we have perhaps the largest piece of news this week – Radiohead’s decision to make their new album available as a download and let users determine how much to pay. This means you can get it free if you want. Most people I know seem to have decided to pay between $5-10 for it. I have yet to run into someone who downloaded it for free.
  • Three pretty fascinating developments here. Record labels might not be dead, but the business is, thankfully, being turned on its head. It’s about damn time, too. Look for many more of these type news stories as time marches on. It’s a whole new world. Time will tell if the record labels want to remain in it. I kind of hope not.

    Now playing: Arthur Alexander – Love’s Where Life Begins
    via FoxyTunes