Everybody talks about how the new model is going to be great for musicians. That the big bad Major Labels aren’t in control of anything anymore so the small musician can finally play on their level and so on.
This is true, it IS going to be good for some musicians. Radiohead is a good example of the kind of band that will be able to capitalize on what’s going on. Sure, they were launched by EMI which is a major, but this is not why they are here. They have 3 important qualities that make any band bankable in the 21st century music economy.
1. Good Music
This is obvious right? Well, obviously not to everybody. Just because a musician can release the music he or she made last night doesn’t mean he should. Quality and consistency is equal to trust with your fans. If the quality slips they stop trusting you. If they stop trusting you they stop automatically clicking the links to visit your page to stream a video or download a new song. If they stop doing that then you have nothing to monetize. You are now dead in the water online and you probably also have fewer fans at shows. Not a good situation to be in.
Radiohead doesn’t have this problem. They have consistently released great music. If they make something available their fans find a way to buy it, or download it, or whatever else they want them to do without even hearing it first. This gives them critical mass and serious fan to fan viral power whenever they do something online go on tour. Why? QUALITY CONTOL. Just because they can release a track every day online doesn’t mean they will. The fans trust them. As Radiohead member Colin Greenwood says,
…For all the giddy prognostications, the most important reason for the success of In Rainbows was the quality of the music. I think this was overlooked, but without the great songs that we were proud of, the online release would have counted for nothing. I am optimistic that if you make good work you can secure the patronage of your fans.