OK Go Chats With Planet Money About The Music Business

from the here-we-go-again dept

The fantastic NPR podcast, Planet Money, interviewed OK Go frontman Damian Kulash, discussing the music industry, record labels and management secrets. In the interview, Kulash reminisces about the success that they had with their now-famous treadmill video -- and then contrasts that experience with the ridiculous policy against embedding forced upon by them by their label, EMI. This battle, of course, ultimately resulted in the band parting ways with their label. Since distribution channels are no longer tightly controlled solely by the record labels, once an artist has established their fanbase, it is now much easier for them to go it alone. This story is becoming increasingly common. From Trent Reznor to Amanda Palmer, dropping a label has become the new reason to celebrate for the latest generation of musicians.

That said, OK Go left EMI amicably, and Kulash is quite appreciative of the music labels. He calls them "risk aggregators" and commends them for funding the initial monetary investment necessary to get his band off the ground. However, with the costs of music production plummeting in recent years, the days of needing huge advances just to cut an album are numbered. Couple this fact with innovative funding models, like what Jill Sobule and Ellis Paul have been doing, and then the opportunity for new bands to find success looks bright. Kulash recognizes this opportunity for new bands to find new paths to success:
There's no known way from point A to point C or D or F anymore. ... There's all sorts of room for people to try new ideas and try innovative things. If people make cool stuff, and people are savvy in the way they deal with their cool stuff, I have no doubt that young bands will continue to rise to the top
The important takeaway here is that the new models of success may yet be discovered. Innovation by savvy people is still paramount. So, to succeed, the music industry needs to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit and get out of the way of artists, instead of acting as a restrictive gatekeeper.
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Filed Under: music industry, ok go, planet money


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  1. identicon
    Booger, 20 Apr 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Why does everyone judge artist success by whether they could be featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?

    "there is no indication that these guys are selling much. if they were the record label wouldn't have been so happy to get rid of them."

    So they weren't making enough to keep the record execs rolling in Coke and Hookers. If none of them have day jobs, they own their own houses and cars, and are not in debt while doing what they love, then they have succeeded. Just because they aren't living in Mansions driving gold plated Rolls Royce's doesn't make them a failure.

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