Radiohead Manager, Nettwerk Launch New Label: Artists Get To Keep Their Copyright

We’ve pointed out how incredibly ridiculous the old structure of the recording industry was, where artists would hand over pretty much all of their rights to the label. It’s amazing that this sort of indentured servitude model has survived as long as it has. After all, if you look at other parallels — such as venture capitalists and startups, the VCs don’t end up totally owning startups to the same extent as labels. Of course, this was really a function of the limitations inherent in the industry: the very limited ability to promote and distribute music in the past without a major record label behind you. With those barriers falling away, we’re seeing much more reasonable models pop up. I still believe there’s a big place for record labels, but it no longer needs to be a massive record label where you hand over all your rights.

And, in fact, we’re seeing newer, more nimble and smarter record labels who are willing to embrace these new models rather than spending all their money on lawyers and lobbyists to hold back customers. The latest example (sent in by Ruby) is that Radiohead’s manager, Brian Message, has teamed up with Nettwerk (who we’ve written about a bunch) to launch a new, much more artist-friendly record label called Polyphonic. One key point: artists on the label retain their copyright. To be honest, it’s amazing that any band has ever been willing to give up the copyrights on its music to a label, so…

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One thought on “Radiohead Manager, Nettwerk Launch New Label: Artists Get To Keep Their Copyright

  1. A lot of these deals are still a mystery to the public. Madonna did that 360 deal with Live Nation for a reported $120m although has not put out a studio album yet without the power of Warner. I do not know the length of most contracts in the US, but the real tragedy is in South Korea, where they are ten years long and all-encompassing. People often have to do whatever random assignment the studio or manager assign. Thanks for the Radiohead reference – they are meant to protest Wall Street this weekend.

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