Eliot: Has there every been a time when the artist fan relationship has been as the center of music?
Brian: Not like now, some things in the past
Eliot: Are fan clubs a useful template?
Brian: I think in the past fan clubs have been a fringe part of the industry. Radiohead doesn't have a paid fan club. The notion of having a tribe of followers as an artist is a good one
Eliot: Atlantic Records is making a platform of tools for their artists to use, should that be a standard thing?
Brian: I think it's a part of the spectrum, if you're a young artist that cares about your career you have to be saavy and use some of these tools. It's about engagement and what they do with their careers. We as managers should have artists at the center of what we do.
It's easy as human beings to point the finger at why things didn't happen. Recorded music is still the language between artists and fans. If you pass that control over to someone else, it's very easy to do that, it's not so good. Certainly we have found with a number of our artists, they understand we live or die now by what we do, not the management. ie instead of the Rifles hanging out backstage after a show they go sign merch, fans love it
Eliot: So there is a kind of apathy
Brian: better to sit down with the artist, look at markets, what needs to be done
Eliot: What do artists need?
Brian: Good, honest team members. They have to trust their managers, advisors, label, whatever. It's not so difficult anymore, having a core central team and from that core you can basically push out from
Eliot: Since we're here to talk about artist responsibility, how did the Featured Aritsts Coalition come about?
Brian: FAC is a group of artists coming out of the UK, there was a group of artists signed in the UK with no mention of consultation with artists (huh?) I went out to the Hollywood Bowl and sat down with Radiohead. They said great, we want to be a part of this. I went back to the UK and hooked up with another one of our artists, Kate Nash, and she said, I get this is about artists taking responsibility, what next?
130 artists got together two weeks ago and came up with a statement.
Eliot: So it's not worth hiding behind "oh the labels hate filesharing and we love it"
Brian: There are a lot of difficult issues and it's worth getting involved
Eliot: We have to bring up In Rainbows (Radiohead). What lessons do you think are there for other artists or the industry.
Brian: I think for the band it's about the creation of the music, that sort of unlocked the notion of doing some interesting things. Having come out of the label and going into the zone of being their own bosses. It wasn't about being their own bosses, it was about doing something exciting and challenging. What I love about it is everyone brought it to the table and said "This is what we're going to do." And they live or die by it. Watching that whole process evolve was really special. It wan't about reinventing any wheels."
Eliot: So part of all that was using investors instead of labels, do you think that's the right thing to do now?
Brian: I think there are lots of people who can partner with bands. It could be labels and managers, that might not work for other people. (examples of bands that do it traditionally and use other investments). You have to do it differently.
Eliot: It's a distracting time to be a music fan, there is such a glut of music coming to everybody. How do you think it's possible to cut through all that and keep people's attentions?
Brian: You have to be good at what you do. Part of this whole relationship business between us and fans is that the fan has to love and respect what we do. each artist has to get that level of respect and trust to get above the noise. It really is a classic cultural relationship. Its not about sales sales sales, it's a lot softer than that.
Eliot: So it's not about sales, you have to be a community organizer...it's about the number of engaged fans....what future models do you see that will put this artist fan relationship at the center?
Brian: There are a lot of people doing a lot of great work.
Eliot: Can the 360 deal be aligned with this?
Brian: "I sound like Bill Clinton here, depends on what the definition of is is" Sometimes it's good to sell music, sometimes it's good to give it away, there should be no hard and fast rules
Eliot: What lessons are there for policymakers in the States?
Brian: I think it would be great both in the US and UK if the music and technology industries work together. In the 1930s there was a whole bunch of useful legislation in the radio industry here.
What is the upside to Radiohead not making albums?
Brian: I couldn't tell you what they're doing next
Eliot: I asked him the same thing before this and he didn't tell me
I want to ask about the role of advertisers...some advertisers are signing artists, some corporations might be artist sponsors...
Brian: Goes back to artist and set of values, for some artists being part of a Nike tribe would be great. Kate Nash doesn't want to be part of that, and that's her makeup. It's a personal choice, you set your values as what you do as an artist. It's not about a blanket approach, it's a personal think about values and choices.
Should fans approach bands?
Brian: Like microinvestment. There are a couple of operations that do that.