John Humphries “JH” BBC Radio presenter
Mark Coles “MC” BBC Radio interviewer
Bryce Edge “BE” Radiohead Management
Chris Hufford “CH” Radiohead Management
(I can’t tell the difference between BE, CH so I probably have them mixed up)
JH: There was a great deal of interest this week with the announcement that Radiohead, one of the world’s most influential rock bands, are putting their new album on the internet, so fans can download it, and *they* decide how much they will pay. You can see a sort of logic behind it – music sales have been falling for years. But does this make any kind of financial sense? Mark Coles has spoken to the bands managers Bryce Edge and Chris Hufford and he suggested to Bryce Edge that people will buy the music for as little as they can.
BE: No. Not from the evidence we have got aleady. We are prepared to take a risk and we might come out looking very foolish. But we believe that if your music is great then people will pay for it.
MC: There are some who are saying that this isn’t a risk at all, this isn’t a gamble, you're actually making money on this, not only... there is no record company you have done away with the middle men, there’s no art it is a digital download and on top of that you’re selling it is a ... “Disk Box” for £40! You’re upping the price of music...
CH: interrupting: it is huge value for money that £40. I mean how many drinks do you get for £40? Can you go out for dinner one night?
BE: How many football matches can you see for £40?
MC: But traditionally, a CD, a box, a a limited edition doesn’t cost 40 quid.
CH: It does, it costs more, the special editions always do. Come on!
BE: I think what we are saying is the CD when it is out in January will be priced normally. The market decides... an interesting way of looking at it is: The disk box which costs a lot of money to make, is a beautiful thing and is a great gift or whatever, is a great thing to collect. We can ultimately, we can control the price of that, we decided that that is the price.
BE: The CD that is in the shops in January the market decides, you know we can’t dictate the price that Tesco is going to sell the CD at.
BE: We thought that the wonderful joined up triangle in those three things is the mp3, where the consumer decides how much he thinks it is worth. Because, personally I’m not sure how much just a digital download is worth. I’m not sure whether 79p what people pay on iTunes is the right price.
MC: I mean you say you can’t breakdown the final figures, but are there people who are trying to get it for a penny?
CH: Ahh absolutely.
BE: Yeah, they are totally across the board. There’s people paying, what some people will consider, they are paying more than they would pay for an iTunes thing, there are people paying less and there are people paying free. It’s just completely completely across the board.
CH: There are actually people who are going on websites and saying “I don’t actually like Radiohead but I am going to give them some money because I think it is a brilliant idea ”
MC: But it is quite revolutionary. We will do it via are own website, we don’t need record companies, we don’t need middlemen.
BE: But we do need record companies, because we are going to need them for January.
MC: But you will make money from downloads, you will make money from the disk box, the publicity will generate interest in the live shows and other merchandising. Radiohead could exist, as a band, purely from this experiment on the website couldn’t they?
BE: I think you are probably right they could, if their only motivation was, as you say, the publicity generated and the income received from the two items we’ve been selling. But I think ultimately, the band think, that this record that they are all incredibly proud of, deserves to be brought in to the mass market place and that it why we do need record companies that have that infrastructure to deliver the CD.
MC: They will be a contract to deal with a physical (talking over each other)
BE: We have about 7 days to get it organised ha ha ha
CH: We tend to fly by the seat of our pants
MC: Some of the critics are already saying this sounds the death knell for the industry, it is the end of CDs, it is the end of record companies, they point to the Radiohead album the Charlottons giving a single away for free on the internet.
CH: No, no, it is just another way of doing things. And hopefully what it will do will initiate artist and record labels to do to think about things a lot more rather than just accept the status quo
BE: Also, there is the debate on the value of music, one of the big mistakes music companies have made is actually prosecuting students and kids for doing what we did years ago taping music I mean it is just nonsense.