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Radiohead Re/mix
April 2, 2008 3:39 AM   Subscribe

More business innovation from Radiohead Radiohead, iTunes and GarageBand are giving you the opportunity to remix the band's new single "Nude". To make remixing easy, the separate 'stems'* from the song are available to purchase from iTunes _here_. The 'stems' available are bass, voice, guitar, strings/fx and drums. You can mix them in any way you like, either by adding your own beats and instrumentation, or just remixing the original parts.
posted by psmealey (69 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 


Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails did this ages ago. For free.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:03 AM on April 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


more ca$h for radiohead - those crafty capitalists! Warning: radioheadremix.com crashes my machine (IE7 on WinXP/SP2), but there again, that's probably a feature of the site.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 4:20 AM on April 2, 2008


more ca$h for radiohead

I mostly don't care about that. I think they pretty much lost money on the whole (pay us what you think it's worth) idea, anyway. I was actually surprised to find that some of the remixes were actually quite good.
posted by psmealey at 4:23 AM on April 2, 2008


Hmmmm... I smell a bit of a love-in. The top remix (on radioheadremix.com) is by Holy Fuck, and on the Holy Fuck website they are proudly stating that Radiohead is playing their single (Lovely Allen) on the radio. Those Radiohead chaps are really out there, aren't they...
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 4:25 AM on April 2, 2008


I mostly don't care about that. I think they pretty much lost money on the whole.

Nope - "Wired: Estimates: Radiohead Made Up To $10 Million on Initial Album Sales". Self funded album totally owned by RH, $10m in downloads plus the license fee from the record label (XL), plus a slice of album sales, plus multiple limited editions and now they are selling the stems.

Nope - they lost a bundle (heh heh). Corporate rock rules! I don't particularly like RH but don't believe the(ir) hype... they know exactly how to play the game.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 4:31 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ditto to the "Nine Inch Nails did it first" sentiment. Reznor's remix site is a really cool resource if you're a fan and seems better implemented than the Radiohead offering, though I haven't dug into it.

If you had told me five years ago that the two primary movers in the innovation of online music would be Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails (maybe an overstatement, but anyway) I would've written you off as a Kurzweilian loonie, but here we are. The future is neat and weird.
posted by mmcg at 4:59 AM on April 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, seriously; this isn't innovation, it's poor imitation.
posted by King Bee at 5:04 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sony (and whoever it was owned Acid before Sony) have been running contests for years now, that allow you to download stems from a particular artist, and a cut down version of their Acid software, in order to do remixes.

Participants have included: David Bowie, Madonna, De La Soul, etc. Current contests are the B52's and Beth Hirsch.

More here.

posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:11 AM on April 2, 2008


So what if Reznor did it first? I'm sure I've got samplepacks from Black-eyed Peas (who I don't even like) from before Reznor did it for this sort of thing. The idea of the samplepack and audience-remix is not revolutionary at all. That said, I'm still happy it is gaining ground. Selling the individual tracks seems a little off just now, but maybe it's the beginning of a new wave of, um, something. We won't know until someone tries it out.
posted by pompomtom at 5:16 AM on April 2, 2008


oops. s/first/earlier/g
posted by pompomtom at 5:17 AM on April 2, 2008


Loads of bands have done this using U-MYX. However, with U-MYX the stems and software are usually given away for free with the single. Having to buy the stems separately is a bit of a rip off but having to buy them individually is an insult.
posted by gfrobe at 5:23 AM on April 2, 2008


So what if Reznor did it first?

Well, that kind of refutes the 'innovation' part of the first sentece of this post. I agree that this is a good thing and Radiohead is one of my favorite bands and are 'heavy weight' enough to give the idea credibility, but it's not innovation. And the fact that they're asking money for it makes it seem less about the fans and more about the band discovering new revenue streams.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:25 AM on April 2, 2008


The idea of the samplepack and audience-remix is not revolutionary at all.

Well, then it's not a very good post.
posted by smackfu at 5:37 AM on April 2, 2008


and more about the band discovering new revenue streams.

That's why I called it "business innovation". Creative or technological innovation it certainly is not.
posted by psmealey at 5:37 AM on April 2, 2008


Mansun did this for free in 1994 with their single "Wide Open Space".

Radiohead jumped the shark a while ago, this just cements it.
posted by triv at 5:45 AM on April 2, 2008


Nope - "Wired: Estimates: Radiohead Made Up To $10 Million on Initial Album Sales".

But your same link says:

But Gigwise's anonymous source may not have meant that all 1.2 million people who downloaded the album in the first three days Radiohead's site paid for it. ComScore said 60 percent of downloaders didn't pay, which could bring that revenue figure down to $2.4 million.

That Radiohead is not doing the same "pay what you want" approach here suggests that it didn't work as well as hoped. psmealy is quite right: this is an experiment in business innovation.

The fact of the matter is that very few people know if the "pay what you want" approach works because Radiohead has so far refused to release any information. On this Radiohead have acted in a very proprietary way. Worse than the RIAA.

Which is a pity. If such a model can work, there are a lot of others who would benefit from the information. If not, then they know to try something else.
posted by three blind mice at 5:49 AM on April 2, 2008


RADIOHEAD CAN DO NO WRONG
posted by liquorice at 5:56 AM on April 2, 2008


When Reznor has been releasing his songs like this for a couple of years now, having to pay to remix a Radiohead track feels outdated. It's might not be the specific right of a fan to have access to these files, but it's certainly not something anyone should be shelling out hard earned money to be allowed to do. I would hate to see this spawn an album or some kind of end product that takes advantage of the free fan labour. It reflects pretty poorly on the band.
posted by saturnine at 5:58 AM on April 2, 2008


I have been a huge RH fan for years, and I disagree that they've jumped the shark musically. Selling their tracks on iTunes, though? Weak.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:59 AM on April 2, 2008


*like this for free >_<
posted by saturnine at 5:59 AM on April 2, 2008


So what if Reznor did it first?

As mentioned, it totally refutes the statement of innovation. Also, while you (as I) may have sample packs from various artists for competitions run in the past, Trent was rthe first person I know of to release full Pro Tools/Garageband files for a song, let alone most of an album.
And free. And under Creative Commons.
posted by opsin at 6:09 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, speaking of NIN, I feel compelled to chime in on two fronts. First, yes he did it before, and he did it better. Paying for low quality lossy stems? Hah. Having your remix instantly become the property of RH as soon as you upload it? Hah. Hah hah hah. No thanks. I love Radiohead, but they don't seem to have the moral drive that Trent Reznor does.
Secondly, regarding the issue of whether or not anybody knows if the model works, you might find this to be rather interesting. He made 750k almost immediately off his special editions, and over the entire first week netted $1.6 million. While Niggy Tardust was certainly disappointing financially, I don't think that anyone can argue that this system isn't wonderful for the big music powerhouses.
posted by GoingToShopping at 6:12 AM on April 2, 2008


Trent was rthe first person I know of to release full Pro Tools/Garageband files for a song, let alone most of an album. And free. And under Creative Commons.

Yes, but was he able to make a living from this? And if so how?

This is the point of RadioHead's experiment. There's nothing wrong with Thom and the lads trying to make a few quid.
posted by three blind mice at 6:23 AM on April 2, 2008


but they don't seem to have the moral drive that Trent Reznor does.

Seems to me that moral drive and a desire to make a living are not mutually exclusive.

From your link:

According to the band, 800,000 transactions generated $1.6 million in sales revenue in the first week of the album's availability, despite the fact that the 36-song version of the album is widely available on torrent sites.

And then with some more detail:

Nine Inch Nails' 36-track instrumental opus Ghosts I-IV, released March 2 via NIN.com, has amassed a first week total of 781,917 transactions (including free and paid downloads as well as orders for physical product), resulting in a take of $1,619,420 USD.

And some more:

As previously reported, the $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition of Ghosts I-IV immediately sold out its run of 2500.

So 2500 of 800.000 transactions (0,3125 percent of the total) resulted in approx half of the the revenue. Sweet.

Moreover, this was physical product. Traditional RIAA stuff. Maybe the availability of free downloads encouraged 2500 people to cough up 300 dollars. Or maybe this is a business model that pimps exclusive products to well-heeled fans.

Moral drive? Not so much.
posted by three blind mice at 6:37 AM on April 2, 2008


3BM, I get it, the innovation comes from being a capitalist! Very sneaky, fellas, very sneaky.
posted by symbioid at 6:40 AM on April 2, 2008


So one could shuffle around different bits of sound, arranging the musical "stems" whichever way they want (the drawing-out-of-a-hat method?), resulting in a Frankenstein of sound in bizarro-dischord? Isn't that how the band makes their own music anyway? So it's like Be Your Own Radiohead?
posted by thebellafonte at 6:48 AM on April 2, 2008


Well of course moral drive and seeking to make bucks aren't mutually exclusive, but in the case of Trent Reznor, it's pretty obvious he values his fans more than RH does theirs, and it shows in the way he's done things. Aside from his repeatedly speaking out against the labels ripping off his fans simply because they can, he's taken the initiative to release under creative commons license and do other things such as let fans retain ownership of their own creations. Even a cursory glance indicates that he's a bit more serious about what he's doing. But yes, it is a fantastic way to make 1.6 million dollars.
posted by GoingToShopping at 6:51 AM on April 2, 2008


David Byrne and Brian Eno have done this as well.
posted by thedanimal at 6:54 AM on April 2, 2008


I would hate to see this spawn an album or some kind of end product that takes advantage of the free fan labour. It reflects pretty poorly on the band.

Dismemberment Plan did this, and called it A People's History of Dismemberment Plan.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:58 AM on April 2, 2008


Radiohead is currently running an animated video contest.
posted by Poolio at 7:00 AM on April 2, 2008


Sorry, this isn't business innovation either. Sasha had a pay-to-play remix contest that's already finished.
posted by mkb at 7:07 AM on April 2, 2008


Your favorite band sucks AND is late to the game.
posted by photoslob at 7:44 AM on April 2, 2008


... and In Rainbows is a fairly forgettable album. ... and CD2 didn't make up for much. There, I said it.

Has Radiohead become the new R.E.M. (great band, forgettable new music)?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:08 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that if they were to sell the individual track stems and call them "legally cleared samples" then it would be great for music. Sample-based music, as heard in the 80s and 90s, is basically impossible to do legally and cheaply anymore, and this could be another revenue stream for bands. Sounds like a win for artists.
posted by dobie at 8:23 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


This isn't exactly their first time for this sort of competition, in 2003 they released a lot of of used and unused samples from Hail To The Thief and hosted them for others to make any sort of track.

"Are you good at making noise? You like a challenge? Well you might like to have a go at this.

You see, we want you to write a track for us, based around the Radiohead audio loops provided on this site.

Make an audio track, send it to us, and then every month, we will put up a new selection of what we receive up here, on the other end of a prominent and attention-whoring link from radiohead.com and absolutely free for the world to download. You, my friend, could become a minor celebrity."

Really I just think they wanted to involve the fans, like they're doing now, even though they are making you pay five bucks and some change for a song I already purchased. Then again, don't you have to pay $75 dollars for the deluxe edition on Ghosts I-IV that contain the multi track recordings?

(And while I'd prefer the wav files in the deluxe edition of Ghosts than the 256 itunes+ mp3s that Radiohead are offering, I'm just not a NIN fan.)
posted by dkfjsal at 8:23 AM on April 2, 2008


3BM said: Yes, but was he able to make a living from this? And if so how?

Overall he has sell out tours, a fan club, merch sales, licensing (eg: Rock Band) catalogue revenue and album sales to generate money. Not to mention that nin.com? Uses Amazon affiliate links. He doesn't need to charge money, he's already got confirmation that his fanbase will commit financially to his work.

GoingToShopping said: "But yes, it is a fantastic way to make 1.6 million dollars."

Remember that's in sales only. As far as I know, he's not talked about how much it all cost to make.
posted by saturnine at 8:57 AM on April 2, 2008


Yeah, I do kind of feel that both In Rainbows and that NIN Ghosts thing didn't quite feel up to be being a proper albulms. The NIN one in particular felt like some experimentation with copying the last quite bits from the last Aphex Twin album, and then a bunch of the clunky stompy marches that seem to have become a fixture on NIN albums recently. Actually I don't think I've wholeheartedly enjoyed anything by NIN since the mid 90s, so the mileage pf diehard NIN fans probably varies there... Well, that weird drumb and bass thing from the Lynch movie, that was OK I guess.

I liked *bits* of In Rainbows, butit didn't really seem to come togetehr and was afirly fogettable. I actually liked the Thom Yorke solo effort much more.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on April 2, 2008


Has Radiohead become the new R.E.M. (great band, forgettable new music)?

Bit early to say that I think.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on April 2, 2008


Also did Coldplay not do this before any of these johnny come latelies?
posted by Artw at 9:07 AM on April 2, 2008


And by Coldplay I mean Coldcut. Jesus. WTF?
posted by Artw at 9:07 AM on April 2, 2008


Yes, that's true saturnine, but those are also only the figures from the first week of sales. Don't forget that his server more or less crashed. I myself paid for the album but wound up having to download it from The Pirate Bay because the download was impossible. I know a few friends either waited a while to buy/download or resolved to get it from TPB and just buy the physical copy when it becomes available. I'm sure he got to keep more than just $1.6 million.
posted by GoingToShopping at 9:09 AM on April 2, 2008


Has Radiohead become the new R.E.M. (great band, forgettable new music)?

I can't speak to Radiohead, because while I respect them for their ambition and work ethic, I couldn't say if their creative output is less vital than it was as they don't really do much for me musically.

But, as I see it, there are only four different models for enabling a band to make it past the 10 or 15 year mark, and almost all of them alienate the band's core fans.

1. Re-invent yourself every couple of years: This mostly only works for solo artists like Bowie, Elton John, Madonna, etc. but the 1970s early 80s version of the Rolling Stones pulled it off pretty effectively. U2 has tried this path, but they just don't have the musical chops to go very far in a different or new direction.
2. Make a major line-up change to put the band in an entirely new direction: 70s/80s Pink Floyd, Van Halen.
3. Continue plodding along through middle age, putting out less ambitious, "laid back" affairs that are dimly reminiscent your more vital stuff that you released when you were younger, but are clearly inferior, i.e.: REM, Lou Reed, pretty much anyone that's gone from rock to acoustic folk.
4. Put out the same bullshit (good or bad) year after year, hoping to appeal to successive generations of fans (90s/00s Rolling Stones, ACDC).
posted by psmealey at 9:13 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


2. Make a major line-up change to put the band in an entirely new direction: 70s/80s Pink Floyd, Van Halen.

So, Yorke'll get kicked out and Hagar jumps into the fray? Oh dear god, can you imagine?
posted by symbioid at 9:20 AM on April 2, 2008


Selling their tracks on iTunes, though? Weak.

They had for years refused to sell individual tracks on iTunes; you could only buy the albums unbundled. They agreed to it this time around because they knew that Parlophone controls the back catalogue, and now that they've left the label that EMI would be allowing the sale of individual tracks and doing whatever else they could to make money of RH (see the "Best Of", coming out June 2, against the explicit wishes of the band).

And just in RH's defence, they never claimed to be doing anything revolutionary or new or for the first time. Those labels tend to get thrown around a lot in what's written about them in the press, but they've never claimed it for themselves.

PS Reznor doesn't get such credit partly because NIN no longer has a large audience, but RH does; fewer people care what Reznor does (and I'm one of them, sorry).
posted by jokeefe at 9:33 AM on April 2, 2008


Kinda done with Radiohead. 'In Rainbows' is music to have cavities filled on a spacestation by; awful, dull and directionless. I really thought I was in touch with Yorke's lyrical agenda on the second and fourth albums, the only genuinely good ones. But now I'm not so sure he has anything to say really, other than these glib generalities about celebrity and politics.

Revolutionary or not, this is still a gimmick to try and get me to buy shite from the iTMS that isn't even a whole song. I guess that's part of the post-modern "haha, you're one too and you didn't even know" joke of the whole thing though, right? Now where's that eight minute recording of a vacuum cleaner and a dog barking?
posted by littlerobothead at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2008


Not a fan of OK Computer or Amnesiac?
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on April 2, 2008


@Artw: I think Amnesiac is the one where it all started to go to hell—the Monster of the Radiohead canon, if you will.
posted by littlerobothead at 10:51 AM on April 2, 2008


jokeefe: If your last sentence is true, then what do you have to say about this? =)
posted by King Bee at 11:13 AM on April 2, 2008


How will the middleman survive?

Middleman: So you kids want music for free? Fine. Take it.

Kids: Great!

Middleman: But if you want to get in on the act, I also have the song split into it's constituent tracks - but that'll cost you.

Kids: Ooohhh...

Middleman: And if you really want to splurge, I'll let you have all the scratch tracks. Buy the Deluxe Package within the next month and I'll throw in the multitracker settings in a friendly XML-based file that accedes to ISO standards that we wrote and shoved down the ISO's throat using 'The ISO Playbook' by Microsoft (you, of course, are responsible for the Microsoft tax).

Kids: Hey! The tracks in the Deluxe Package don't sound like the tracks in the song!

Middleman: Waitasec! I didn't say that the deluxe tracks were the recorded tracks, did I?

Kids: What are we supposed to do with poorly-mixed tracks and Steven Tyler singing 'OOoohh, Baby Get It Yeah' for six solid minutes?

Middleman: I don't know - go crazy.

Kids: We can't even manipulate these files - they're worse than useless.

Middleman: You want files in basic .wav format? Let me show you the Super Deluxe Package...
posted by eclectist at 11:33 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


@Artw: I think Amnesiac is the one where it all started to go to hell—the Monster of the Radiohead canon, if you will.

Truly, the Monster of the REM canon is Document... or at the very least: Green.
posted by psmealey at 12:00 PM on April 2, 2008


jokeefe: If your last sentence is true, then what do you have to say about this? =)

Um. Nothing, as it doesn't seem terribly important?

@Artw: I think Amnesiac is the one where it all started to go to hell—the Monster of the Radiohead canon, if you will.

*bites tongue, backs away from thread* >_<
posted by jokeefe at 12:13 PM on April 2, 2008


It's late.
I've had too much to drink.
So: self link
have fun.
posted by silence at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2008


psmealey:

5. Continue to make music from a place of sincerity, with the hopes that you will have an audience but all the while cognizant of the fact that musical integrity is more important than commercial success, if you absolutely MUST choose between the two. More likely, you try to shoehorn the two together in ways that ask the least amount of compromise from both. And you acknowledge that there will always be people (musicians and non-musicians) who will feel perfectly justified to pass judgement on everything you do.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ah, the Fugazi approach. Love it, fingers_of_fire!
posted by psmealey at 12:43 PM on April 2, 2008



Haujobb's Matrix, released in '97, included a second CD consisting entirely of every sample they used to make the album; they encouraged fans to make their own music using the samples Haujobb had developed. Part of the whole MACOS initiative (Musicians Against Copyrighting of Samples; their home page is now defunct, so maybe the organization has gone belly-up).
posted by Shepherd at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2008


OK Computer (1997)
Kid A (2000)
Amnesiac (2001)
Hail to the Thief (2003)

Murmur (1983)
Reckoning (1984)
Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
Life's Rich Pageant (1986)

R.E.M. just started out with a bang. Radiohead needed some warmup time.

Two rather different developments, when you think about it, but still an interesting comparison of four great albums in a row. (Not that I don't like Document, mind you. Just saying... (I liked Monster too.) I also like Amnesiac and Green. Just not a whole lot of the post-Berry REM.)

OK, what are four better albums in a row from a "popular" "modern" "rock" band, say 1979+ ... ? Metallica?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:25 PM on April 2, 2008


It seems utterly insane to me that you included Hail to the Thief in there instead of going back a step with The Bends. Hail to the Thief was 90% garbage.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:33 PM on April 2, 2008


Fair enough. I liked it, but I can certainly see the argument from the other side. I know I've listened to The Bends much more than Hail to the Thief, so I could be burned out.

But if I had to pick one or the other to keep, yeah, it would be HTTT.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:35 PM on April 2, 2008


I think Amnesiac is the one where it all started to go to hell—the Monster of the Radiohead canon, if you will.

I'm with you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:07 PM on April 2, 2008


Though I beleive littlerobothead to be pretty much wrong on all other Radiohead related matters he's not wrong about The Bends being awesome. HTTT suprised me by being better than I remembered it last time I gave it a listen, but it's not really up there.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on April 2, 2008


If I may butt in on the Bends/HTTT debate and offer my humble opinion: I find The Bends consistantly good, as in I listen to that album pretty much the whole way through without skipping tracks (occasionally not in an "Iron Lung" mood). HTTT, on the other hand, I skip about 2/5 of the tracks. However, the tracks I do listen to on HTTT are really really really good. If the whole album were made up of tracks like that, it would blow The Bends out of the water. If I could only take on album with me on a trip to Alpha Centauri, then it'd be The Bends, but I'd try as hard a I could to always remember great tracks like "There, There" and "Go to Sleep".

Sorry for continuing the derail.
posted by snwod at 6:37 PM on April 2, 2008


OK, what are four better albums in a row from a "popular" "modern" "rock" band, say 1979+ ... ? Metallica?

In REM's case, it's actually 4 and a half. The debut EP "Chronic Town" has five songs on it, but they are all excellent, entirely worthy of mention next to those other four.

As for other bands in the post punk era with a string of four consecutive albums that are uniformly excellent, that's a great bar question, and difficult to answer. There are a few bands with three great ones, but not four. For my money, I'd say Sonic Youth (EVOL, Sister, Daydream Nation and Goo) and Hüsker Dü (Zen Arcade, New Day Rising, Flip Your Wig and Candy Apple Grey).
posted by psmealey at 3:03 AM on April 3, 2008


jokeefe - I was basically joking, since Nine Inch Nails beat Radiohead in a fan-voting contest. har har har.
posted by King Bee at 5:54 AM on April 3, 2008


As for other bands in the post punk era with a string of four consecutive albums that are uniformly excellent

Killing Joke - Killing Joke, What's THIS For..., Revelations, (HA... Killing Joke Live [mini LP],) Fire Dances
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2008


Thank you for mentioning Haujobb, I was worried that they had been forgotten completely. There was also the Skinny Puppy sample CD released the next year.
posted by Jairus at 4:01 PM on April 3, 2008


Blonde Redhead did this for free, too, with the release of "23" last year.
posted by assoctw at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2008


Let me throw in Kristin Hersh's CASH Music as someone else doing this before (and better).
posted by Auz at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2008


Radiohead is still taking new animations. A few good ones are here and here. Vote for your favorites.
posted by rheasloan at 6:51 AM on April 11, 2008


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