Monday, May 02, 2005

Can you make money giving away music?

Rick Mullin, Chemical & Engineering News

If there is any question that the Internet has changed the music business, Tweedy's story should clear that up. When Wilco's record company, the Reprise subsidiary of Warner Brothers Records, dropped the band in 2001--the firm rejected the new album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," featuring "War on War"--the band decided to stream the music on its website and go on tour. Tweedy says he was shocked when big crowds showed up at Wilco concerts singing along with songs that were commercially unreleased.

The next big surprise came when Nonesuch Records, a smaller, more entrepreneurial Warner subsidiary, heard the music, signed Wilco, and released the album despite the fact that hundreds of fans had already downloaded it from peer-to-peer websites that took the music from Wilco's site. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" went on to be among the most critically acclaimed records of 2002. It hit the Billboard chart at 13 and became the band's best-selling record.

Apparently so.

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