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Business-models are highly overrated

Radiohead having tea
Radiohead is releasing a new album. This new album could be the cheapest or most expensive one you have ever bought. The band is bypassing the record industry by releasing their new album on the web and you can buy it for whatever you would like to pay for it.

If this works it will show again that business-models are highly overrated for the success of virtual goods and services (YouTube, Google, Twitter). Sure if you set up a store in a small town with the intention to sell physical goods you need a rather solid business model to break even.

But what if you operate from your own creative strength as an artist or developer. Did you ever hear famous painters, writers or musicians talk about business-models? The business-model is for the middle-man. The guy who knows how to make money out of creativity.

The web produced the tools to just make and expose the things we like. Successful websites cut out the middle-man (eBay, Amazon). If it works, great! if it doesn’t, great, this is what the artist likes to do. Success is great, not the motivation. Self expression is.

On the picture you see Radiohead drinking tea. This could be staged, sure. But it could also be real. What you see are three guys talking about stuff and making music, expressing themselves. Using whatever media they like to tell the world how they think about things.

Creativity shouldn’t be stopped by a business model
They don’t need a business-model. They just need to do whatever they are good at. Sure you need to buy your food and sneakers, but not having a solid business model does not exclude this.

Radiohead Website
What about the money?
So you’re still worried about the money? You can’t download an album illegally if it’s fee on the web. What you can do is pay whatever you want. As for me this would be €10,- (iTunes set the price I think). This is the amount I feel comfortable with paying for an album for new and old artists. It gives me the freedom to make purchase mistakes and not feel guilty. I don’t like to negotiate on prices, it’s not in our culture and I’m glad about this. I hate stores where you know you have to ask for a discount and you will get it. I just don’t go there.

Back to the Radiohead album, think about it. I will pay €10,- for a cd as well for the download. But the middle-man is gone. If the band usually gets 10% (I don’t know anything about cd pricing, is this realistic?) out of the €10,- they now receive 100% enabling 9 other fans to download the album for free.

4 replies on “Business-models are highly overrated”

The share of artists per sold item differs; normally, 10% is reasonable. Prince once got as high as 20 or 25%, which was miraculous. Normally, artists make money with performances, not with products.

w00t 160kbps…. glad I’ve paid only 0,50 for it… not that I would hear the difference in quality ;) but that’s no standard in digital music today.

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