How will Duran Duran release their next album?9October 25th, 2010
Recently, a makeup artist who frequently works with Duran Duran posted on her blog about how Simon Le Bon told her that the upcoming Duran Duran album All You Need Is Now ” will be out to download at the end of the year and on CD next year.” With fans eagerly anticipating the new music, this tiny scrap of sort-of-news has Duran chat forums all abuzz. As one poster put it, “next thing you know will be getting info from the cleaning lady in Wembley Arena.” All of this interest shows that topic of exactly how the album will be released is very hot one indeed, and I feel that it is absolutely deserving of rampant, time-wasting speculation.
Duran Duran are currently without a record deal after “parting ways” with Sony following their last album, Red Carpet Massacre. Many saw this break as a blessing which would allow Duran Duran more creative freedom. After all, quite a few artists are making their way in the world without a standard distribution deal, which can actually drive artists into debt. With a deal like this, the record company pays for the recording and handles the manufacturing, distribution, press, and promotion. The artist gets their royalty percentage only after all those other costs are repaid, and the label owns the copyright to the recording forever. Even when such tasks as publicity and artwork are farmed out to smaller firms, the money — and the control — all funnel down to the label. When you really break it down, a standard record deal often isn’t such a good deal at all.
So wouldn’t just going it on their own and releasing the music through iTunes make more sense? Not necessarily, though not having the costs involved with producing a physical product could theoretically save some money, even with Apple taking 34% of the sales of each song. However, they would surely miss out on revenue by not having a physical release to sell to such an established and ardent fan base, many of whom are happily eager to support the band and their aDDiction by buying anything and everything they put out. Of course, this could be remedied without a standard label deal by cutting a manufacturing and distribution deal or by taking the work on themselves and going the self-distribution route.
I was quite surprised to read a recent quote from Nick Rhodes in an interview with a South African web site, in which Nick was asked if Duran Duran would consider giving the new album away, much like Radiohead did. Nick responded, “I think Radiohead were extremely brave in doing that but things have moved on. There is still a massive problem with illegal downloading but what iTunes has done is remarkable and its shown the way for the entire industry.” With no disrespect, I don’t think iTunes had anything to do with the incredible success of the Radiohead experiment, nor did illegal downloading. But what I really don’t understand is the oddly placed gushing over iTunes. Though the band seemed to have a pleasant enough meeting with Apple in June 2009, Nick, John and Simon have all expressed some form of criticism for the platform in the past. To suddenly swoon over it being so “remarkable” seems quite odd… perhaps something could be afoot there.
Now, the connection I’m making with all of this does lie somewhere between the makeup artist and Radiohead. Why would Duran Duran release the album digitally first? Would this not simply encourage illegal file sharing and lead to poor sales of the physical CD? In fact, studies have shown that downloaders are more likely to buy the official release having sampled illegal copies. Radiohead (also without a label) understood that the traditional way of firing up the marketing machine and pre-releasing to crapshoot reviewers so that it all hits at just the right time and goes straight into the charts just doesn’t work for a band like this one. It’s the way of the big labels and days past, and it doesn’t work for bands like Radiohead — or Duran Duran — for one, because their fan bases don’t really cross over easily with others.
By essentially leaking In Rainbows themselves, Radiohead bypassed all the media crap that doesn’t work and delivered the music straight to their established fan base. In October ’07, they provided the music for download, allowing people to pay any amount that they wanted for it, and during the last week in December (January 1st in the US), they released the album via iTunes as well as a physical CD. Even after three months of allowing people to download the music for free, as soon as it was made available on iTunes it was the no.1 album, selling 30,000 units in the US in the first week alone with the physical CD selling 1.75 million units to date. It didn’t hurt that In Rainbows is a brilliant and critically acclaimed piece of music… but of course All You Need is Now will be all that and more, right? While the digital first and CD later might sound odd at first, it could be an ultimately savvy way to go. Whatever the case may be and whichever path Duran Duran choose to take, it will all become clear very soon.
I’ve just had an email exchange with the very charming makeup artist, who (not surprisingly) doesn’t have any further information about the timing or distribution of the album. However, I must say that this has been a delightful opportunity to chat with a woman who has the job that so many have always dreamed of : applying lip gloss to John Taylor. Now that’s something to swoon over.Tags: All You Need Is Now, Duran Duran, iTunes, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Radiohead
An interesting read – though (along with properly pointing out that studies showing that those who pirate the most music also spend the most), missing out perhaps on the change in artists’ revenues moving from direct sales of music (in whatever format) to ticket sales (& associated merchandising)…
Well, whilst ‘the man’ gets less money, the money spent on music overall has increased depite competition from alt entertainment activities -> more cash going to the artists but from a different source.
So, the more people who get to hear the music (whether for free or not) -> (if it’s actually good) more ticket sales –> selling out venues (+ potentially larger venues &/or more dates) —> extra £££££s.
&, just to note, with the first In Rainbows ‘pay what you want’ release, there was a quite beautiful £40 boxset (pre-ordering before manufacture so that costs were more than covered) with the album on 2x vinyl & CD (plus a 2nd bonus CD) to please the harder core fans & those not exactly satisfied with (shonky) lossy files…
…&, afaik, it still went on to sell more copies in the first week of ‘normal’ release than RCM sold in total.
Anyway, much as i want to hear it, unless they do something similar, i certainly won’t be paying to download All You Need Is Now for ~£10 via iTunes/~£7.50 from Amazon (using the current cost for Ronson’s Record Collection as a guide)… …when, assuming it’s not instantly reduced, it’ll be much the same cost to have a physical copy (with all of the artwork & whatnot) & in better quality.
Ignoring the distractingly beautiful picture of John here.
Why don’t they do it the way John did when he was on his own. Produce the damn thing themselves and distribute it through their own website like John did, keeps the costs down and at least the fans get the physical product in their hands. It surely is something to think about and I think a lot of bands have done this. Talk about having complete control over the product. Its more personal as well….
I look forward to reading responses as this is a really good discussion….
I’m always amused when fans just assume that having that glorious record deal is going to be the difference between a band doing well and not doing well….clearly that’s not the case at all in this day and age. As I have said over and over, getting a label deal these days is EASY. It’s being able to KEEP the label that is very difficult, in large part due to all of the things you’ve listed so brilliantly in your blog. Labels do not want bands on their roster that both owe them money and don’t seem to have the potential to pay it back. I’ve worked with bands in the past, and it is downright expensive to have that so-called “deal”. Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to make money when you’re tied to a label, especially if you’re a relatively new band starting out of the blocks.
That said, doing a d/l copy of the album to begin with to test the waters doesn’t really surprise me. I know the band has recognized that people want that instant gratification that a download provides – perhaps not a true “Duranie” would do that, but certainly people who want a song or two without buying the whole album would be enticed to do so this way. I recall an interview with Simon…I want to say it was at some point immediately after RCM’s release where he mentioned the challenges with trying to sell a physical CD these days. Kids don’t care about the quality, and they don’t want to pay for things they don’t listen to, and he mentioned that at the time he wasn’t even sure if they’d do a full album. My only problem with that line of thinking is that their fan base are clearly NOT kids…but if they’re going to eventually offer a physical CD, then perhaps they’ve created the best of all situations?? We will soon see. Great blog!
That is some strange words from NR about iTunes. He doesn’t seem to quite get how the In Rainbows experiment worked. PocketDemon has filled in some of the details above.
At any rate, it’s far easier to release digitally earlier. The digital files are ready weeks or likely months in advance of physical product being ready. Also, Radiohead did an amazing job with different packages, at premium prices, of In Rainbows.
Not sure Duran has the same amount of rabid fans as Radiohead, but pushing it out on your own is a sure way to keep more of the cash. You just have to know how to market, which Duran has lacked since the Berrows skipped ship and Capitol/EMI had little interest in pushing them after Big Thing or so. It always seems to me that Duran Duran (1993) was a hit mainly due to the overwhelming strength of the Ordinary World single. Capitol/EMI had done a fair amount of promotion, but it really took off beyond their expectations I think.
Agree with the first half of what you’ve written.
Well, despite research suggesting that a 3rd of the people apparently paid nothing to download In Rainbows (though it was a slightly odd system where you choose how much to pay before hearing it – so it wasn’t quite ‘try before you buy’ & there’s no knowing how many of the >3 million sales in total were people improving on quality with a physical release) & the average was £4…
…RH themselves made more money from a combination of the download ‘donations’ (for lack of a better term) & the £40 boxset than they made in total from Hail To The Thief (the previous album) despite that apparently having sold 2.3 million copies by 2007.
& then, by owning the rights but licensing it to various record companies & iTunes & whatnot for general release, they again kept far more of the profits ongoing…
Yeah, this of course is a completely different argument from the “the more people that listen to something that’s great, even if they pirate it, the more people will buy concert tickets which is where the cash is for almost all artists now” that i made, but is agreeing that a successful & profitable record doesn’t need a record company.
Having said that, (something i deleted from the original post as i wanted to think on it) my issue with both the 2nd part of your comment & the big problem i would have with the premise of D2 doing it via iTunes ~a month & a half before the physical release is that it’s strikes me as a rather cynical way of attempting to charge the fans who’ve stuck with them twice. (or rather an extra time as there’s bound to be at least couple of different formats of the new album)
Okay, as with Kitty, i’m likewise not advocating piracy, but i’m not exactly convinced that it will get those all important first week sales from the fans that’ll add to the promotion, as i can really see lots of people ‘acquiring’ a temporary copy until there’s a proper release unless there’s some incentive (ie a snazzy boxset deal).
Naturally, that’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a digital release as well (as lots of people obviously consume music that way – &, of course, it’s equally infringing on copyright to copy a CD onto an MP3 player under UK law as it is to pirate it so most people ‘should’ be buying both over here) but timing it the way that’s being proposed just strikes me as a somewhat exploitative way to do things…
Yeah, i remember the AC/DC premise – not my cup of tea, but…
Well, adding anything else ‘might’ be both a little too OOT & self-incriminatory, but am a big believer in the principle of ‘responsible piracy’ (aka ‘try before you buy’) – & using the internet to do it is no different from being a kid, back in the day, & getting cassettes from your mates.
Okay, it’s not quite as necessary now that services such as Spotify exist – though not everything is on there of course & they do have a history of ripping off independent artists.
I think Nick answered that question on Radio 2….an interesting time awaits…
John I love you!!! I hope you in Brazil…
We’ll be toghether soon!!!