Friday, December 07, 2007

Nicky Wire doesn't like the Radioheads

Nicky Wire is angry. Angry, angry, angry, with Thom Yorke, who is conspiring to kill music:

"Fair play to Radiohead for doing something different. It's certainly great for publicity but I think it kind of demeans music.

"Music used to be a market, now it's all gone digital. It's worrying and it seems to be the way of the world at the moment. Sales are doing well everywhere else. Cinema is doing well, video games are doing well but music isn’t. The free download phenomenon is ruining the industry."

It's interesting that Wire thinks sales in music are doing poorly compared to films and video games because of "free downloads", rather than the other possibility that perhaps people are happier to pay for video games than music. That maybe - given the choice between having the family round the telly flying off to Saturn with Mario Galaxies on the WII, and the Manics last bloated album, packed with Davroesque impressions of their younger selves, the music will always struggle.

We never had Wire pegged as a company man, but the band have been with Sony a very long time, and clearly he's comfortable with the industry. That's the only explanation for the RIAA-tinged view of In Rainbows as being part of the problem rather than an interesting attempt to find a solution. It's obvious that - in years to come - historians of music aren't going to see an experimental pay-what-you-like download in 2007 as the point where the music industry imploded; that happened years ago.

And since when was "music a market", Wire? Do you really think that in the 70s and 80s there was something organic about pop music, that we would nip down to Woolworths, choose from thousands of albums and haggle a price? If anything, the old pre-digital world was more like a petrol station shop than a market; a limited range of mostly inedible sludge offered at artificially high prices. The digital world allows the people who make the music to deal more-or-less direct with the people who consume it - it's potentially a farmer's market of the music world. It may be a world where large consumer electronic companies cease to subsidise old bands to make disappointing albums simply to ensure the band keeps the lucrative back catalogue with the label, but why would that worry you, Nicky?

Hang about though: actually, it's not Radiohead who are killing music. It's TV:
"I can't bear the X Factor judges and the shit they put out every year. It's just a load of talentless fuckwits that destroy the industry."

Up to a point, you'd have to agree with him. But he's also moaning that nobody buys records - and yet they're buying Leona Lewis in shedloads. Isn't that what he wants? If he fetishises markets so much these days, doesn't the market speak and say 'we sort of like this stuff, and will at least buy it in fairly large quantities...'?


ian said...

Radiohead trying to kill music? Surely anyone who'd listened to Kid A knew that already?

Anonymous said...

That's Nicky Wire ther, promoting his band's Christmas Single,free to download from their website.

Anonymous said...

"the Manics last bloated album, packed with Davroesque impressions of their younger selves" is scarily accurate - Listening to 'Indian Summer', you can almost hear James D-B struggling not to burst into 'A Design For Life'.

Speaking of Bobby Davro, was anyone else disturbed by how good he was on Buzzcocks last night? As someone who's grown up programmed to hate his end-of-pier gurning, I was shocked to find myself laughing when he said he said he'd been banned from his local pool when the 'S' fell off his Speedos.

I'm getting old, aren't I? By Christmas I'll be singing the praises of a Tom O'Connor DVD, explaining how he doesn't have to resort to smut.

Jack said...

And since when was "music a market"

My hazy memories of starting off on economics, the definition goes of a market is something like "an arena where buyers and sellers meet in order to trade". I never thought I'd be defending Nicky Wire, but this time he was right.

Although I'm probably giving him too much credit in assuming he meant that.

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