What happens when the biggest band in the world turn the music industry upside down? We’re seeing it now, in full effect. When Radiohead announced that their new album would be released download only from www.inrainbows.com and that fans would get to choose how much they wanted to pay for the LP, record label executives went into panic mode.
Radiohead have been without a record label since 2004, and they’ve embraced this freedom by doing something radical. Nine Inch Nails, Jamiroquai, The Charlatans, Oasis – the list of major bands following suit is growing.
What we’re seeing here is the benefit of having a large enough fan base and reputation to really be able to turn your back on the system. If we apply this to the blogosphere, you see it happening all the time. If major record labels are Google, bands like Radiohead and Oasis are John Chow.
John Chow is big enough to be able to do almost whatever he wants. John Chow has said many times that he doesn’t rely on Google for anything now. While others base their entire blogging projects on the ins and outs of Google, here is John Chow saying he doesn’t give a damn, just as Radiohead are doing.
Major bands are becoming increasingly frustrated with record labels. They don’t want them, but until now, they needed them. Digital downloads are the music industry’s biggest headache. They are killing record sales, which dropped 25% in March this year compared to 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal.
One of Google’s headaches is people trying to manipulate the system, like when John Chow offered links for every review written about his blog with the anchor text “make money online”. He got punished by having his keywords thrown way down in Google searches.
Record labels have tried to fight back against digital downloads, as is evident in the landmark ruling that American Jammie Thomas must pay $220,000 for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. The ruling is ridiculous and futile because times are changing.
Did John Chow care when he got bitch slapped? No, because he was big enough that it didn’t matter. He doesn’t need to rely on Google, just as Darren Rowse doesn’t, just as Cash Quests doesn’t. Radiohead and Oasis don’t need to rely on record labels anymore, and here lies the lesson: in times of change, it takes pillars of the community to push things along.
If you get yourself into a position where you have the readership of John Chow or Cash Quests or Shoemoney, you have the power to turn the scene upside down.
For the rest of us, we still have to respect Google, but we’re being shown the possibility that things won’t always be this way. So Google knocked down a few Page Ranks of major bloggers, but the majority of them don’t care. It will only serve to turn people further against Google, just as Jammie Thomas getting sued will only serve to turn bands and music fans further against major record labels.
Jamiroquai frontman Jason “Jay” Kay has been very vocal about his dislike for record labels putting marketing above music. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails expressed his disgust for the high price of CDs by telling fans to steal his music at a show in Australia. In the blogging world, Pro Blogger said he doesn’t use Adsense any more. Until recently, it was assumed that a blogger couldn’t make money unless he was using Adsense.
John Chow also doesn’t run Adsense, and neither does John Cow. They do things their own way, and show the rest of us that if we work hard and build up our blogs, we can do the same. Heck, even Cash Quests got banned from Adsense and now those guys are making more money than ever. In the future, we won’t even need to rely on SEO if we put the groundwork in.
Record labels are not the be all and end all of the music industry any more, and Google is not the be all and end all of the blogosphere. We’ve been relying Google and silly green bars of Page Rank for too long.
What’s interesting about the Radiohead story is that fans are being asked to choose the value of music, which has until now been determined by record labels. Label bosses are terrified because they stand to lose so much money.
What’s interesting about the blogosphere is that even now, Google plays a major role in determining the value of a blog, but this is changing too. You don’t need to rank number one for every keyword and you don’t ultimately need a PR6 to be successful, but having these things along the way will help you.
For you, me and all the other bloggers waiting to make it, we can’t turn our backs on Google yet, but in time, we will be able to. Radiohead, Oasis, John Chow & Co. – these are the people who are changing the way we think and approach blogging. As Shoe said, you have to play the game – up until a point.
This is the blogging revolution. As Dosh Dosh wrote recently in reference to the Radiohead story, it’s not all about money, it’s about reaching out to a loyal audience. This audience is what we should be aiming for first and foremost – Google or no Google.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m looking up to the people who are making it, like Courtney Tuttle. You can get more useful info reading decent blogs than you can studying Google’s logarithms.