Wildly popular British band Radiohead has always liberally (pun intended) mixed its politics with its music, and now the band is turning its activism on the RIAA.
In the midst of a lawsuit the RIAA is pursuing against alleged music pirate Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum, Radiohead’s manager intends to testify on Joel’s behalf. The band is already a member of the “Featured Artists Coalition,” a group of musical acts that contend the RIAA’s actions don’t speak for the artists they claim to represent.
We love Radiohead, but we’re not sure if they realise they’re superstars, and the normal rules don’t apply to them anymore. The band’s “pay what you want” idea for the In Rainbows album may have been successful, but for every one Radiohead there’s 10 thousand would-be rock stars selling CDs out of the trunks of their car (or MP3s on some little-visited web site) and starving.
There’s no question the old business model for Big Music needs an update given technological progress. But for a while there in the early 90s, Radiohead was nothing but a one-hit wonder with “Creep” and an otherwise unremarkable album called Pablo Honey. That the band kept getting better and better from there is the stuff of legend: But would any of it have happened without the protection and promotion of an RIAA that Radiohead now blithely dismisses?