01 April 2008

Don't get any big ideas

Anybody looking at iTunes today will no doubt have seen the big promo for Radiohead's track "Nude", with an interesting twist. In addition to the track itself each of the component elements (vocal, base, fx, drum & guitars) are available to download individually; purchase all tracks and get access to a garageband/logic set. The iTunes tracks are kinda useless by themselves, however the Garageband set allows you to remix with individual loops within Logic/Garageband or export all the loops as .AIFF, or Wav files, and then import those loops back into Ableton Live, or whatever other program takes your fancy. Once you've mucked about and remixed the track you can upload it to Radiohead's remix site.

This isn't the first time a major act has done this, Nine Inch Nails have released all the individual loop .AIFFs from their last two albums, and done so for free. The approach of both groups to more creative forms of music distribution and attempts to directly engage with their fanbase really forms a collaborative musical relationship between artist and audience, facilitating dialogue rather than dictation.

Of course 99.9% of all fan remixes will be simply awful. The trouble with user generated content is that most users have no taste. That's why they are users, and not producers. Giving workers control of the means of musical production is all well and good, but given that 2 million people bought Britney Spears' last album, and over 1 million people bought Paris Hilton's album, there are clearly some people who should never, ever be let make music.

And that goes double for their fans.

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