MIDEM sends Message to tout new business models

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Radiohead co-manager Brian Message spoke Monday during a keynote at MIDEM about how management and artists work together to build fan bases without the backing of traditional record labels.

Message, a partner in U.K. management company Courtyard, appeared at the first day of the international music confab, which runs through Wednesday. He recently was elected chairman of the Music Managers Forum.

The Radiohead campaign for "In Rainbows," beginning with the pay-what-you-want business model for the album's release, was about "artist empowerment" after the band's departure from EMI, Message said.

He declined to reveal the average price paid for the download release, only confirming that it was "a lot more than the cost of delivering it." He did say that a significant part of the band's revenue comes from touring, with buzz from the "Rainbows" release helping them to play to 60,000 fans in San Francisco, where they previously played to 25,000.

"A lot of revenue comes from live," Message said. "Radiohead's live business has gone up hugely."

The release also resulted in Radiohead getting data on about 3 million fans, he said, which are used to inform them about Radiohead events and releases.

Message said the business model also has been transformed for new artists.

"It has been a quite dramatic period of change," he said. "Our business models have migrated from easy 20% commissions and having to put up no investment to having to put up quite a lot of investment. It definitely makes the pips squeak a little bit in terms of taking that risk."

Andre Paine is a correspondent for Billboard.
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