Brian Zisk on Radiohead's online experiment

John Shinal · May 5, 2008 · Short URL:

News that Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails are making their latest album available in high-quality formats for free over the Internet pushes our discussion about online music back to the front burner. 

For the fourth part of our discussion with longtime Internet music advocate Brian Zisk, we talked about how releasing music online is changing the industry's economics for bands.

While the record labels for years viewed online music as a threat, Zisk says the decision by Radiohead to release its album "In Rainbows" -- and let those who downloaded it pay whatever they wanted -- showed how the Web can be used to expand an audience.

Although he's not a big fan of the band, Zisk says he bought it to support Radiohead's move -- and he wasn't alone.

While the band hasn't released sales figures, some reports have said the album was downloaded more than one million times.

No matter what they made on the digital release, Zisk says the band got a ton of free publicity from the move and, like other big names that have embraced Internet distribution, showed that there are alternatives to splitting what they earn with record companies.

"People are going to download music... the trick is getting them to pay for it," Zisk says.

For the first, second and third parts of our talk with Zisk, click here.

Zisk's gathering of musicians and technologists, the SanFran MusicTech Summit, happens May 8 in San Francisco.


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