Did Ok Go Free Itself From EMI? [Confirmed!]
from the nice-move dept
There’s been lots of talk about the band Ok Go lately, with its latest album coming out and two viral videos (of the same song) in the last few weeks. Of course, the whole thing has been a bit of a mess between the band and its label. When the first viral video came out, Capitol Records/EMI decided to ban embeds of the video, which seems like the best way to totally kill off a viral video. The band responded with a mild, but still somewhat exasperated note about how the label didn’t fully grasp the situation, but while also partly blaming YouTube for the way it (supposedly) handles payments on music in embedded videos. Later, Ok Go’s lead singer, Damian Kulash, penned a NY Times Op-Ed again suggesting the label was out of touch, and highlighting how much damage was done by not allowing the viral videos to go out. EMI/Capitol, for its part, tried to replace this with a faked viral campaign where you could get a free track if you blindly retweeted a message. Finally, somehow the band (and EMI?) were able to line up a sponsor in State Farm to allow for its latest video — a rather stunning Rube Goldberg machine timed to the music — to be offered up as an embed:
The band has formed its own independent label, Paracadute Recordings, and will take over all distribution and promotion for their latest album, Of the Blue Color of the Sky, which came out in January. “We’d like to thank the people at EMI Music who have worked so hard on our behalf,” said the band’s Damian Kulash. EMI Music said: “We’ve really enjoyed our relationship with OK Go. They’ve always pushed creative boundaries and have broken new ground, particularly with their videos. We wish them the greatest success for the future.”
Fascinating. The report also claims that:
Unfortunately, the huge traffic their videos generated never quite translated into album sales. The band’s best seller was 2005’s Oh No, their second, which included the treadmill hit, “Here It Goes Again,” and sold around 200k, while their latest is languishing at 20k.
This was the same point that was made back last year by someone from Billboard in dismissing online viral sensations as being unimportant for “real” sales. But, as the band itself noted, the success of the video brought out huge crowds and made the band quite profitable to the label. This is the problem you run into when you only think about the music industry as if “album sales” are everything. Selling music directly is not a very good business model, and focusing on how many album sales there are totally misses the mark these days.
The question now, is what will the band do when freed from the record label. It will be interesting to see, since the band seems to relish its reputation as being creative well beyond the music. Hopefully that means taking on some of the basic principles of successful cool music business models and taking them to a new level. At least I hope that’s what we’ll see…
Update: As noted in the comments, this has now been confirmed, and Damian has put up a video explaining: