quarta-feira, 23 de março de 2011


I don’t know Umair Haque. And I’m not as smart as Umair Haque. But after reading his book, The New Capitalist Manifesto, I would bet that Umair Haque admires Radiohead.

Haque’s manifesto is a blueprint for building disruptively better businesses. He profiles insurgent companies like Apple, Google, Threadless, and Walmart (no, that wasn’t a typo) who create thick value. Perhaps Haque will dedicate a section to Radiohead if there’s a reprint of The New Capitalist Manifesto.

Early last week, Radiohead announced they were going to release its latest album, The King of Limbs, exclusively on their website. The album was set to drop on Saturday as a digital download. And then the band decided to release it a day early. Twitter nearly combusted when the surprise was revealed while thousands of Radiohead fans spent their Friday mornings listening to the band’s eighth studio album from their workspaces.

Radiohead also gave purchasing options to its fans. If you wanted to purchase a digital download of the album in MP3 format, please pay $9. If you wanted uncompressed CD-quality WAV files, please pay $14. If you wanted two vinyl records, a compact disc, 600+ pieces of artwork and a full-color piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together, please pay $48.

Radiohead successfully shook up its industry by allowing customers to choose the way they wanted to consume Radiohead’s product. The band also managed to out-Radiohead itself.
Back in 2007, Radiohead released In Rainbows on their website as a digital download. The cost? Whatever you deem appropriate, including paying nothing at all.

Radiohead’s make-our-own-rules behavior isn’t limited to the distribution of their music. While touring, all buses and trucks run on biofuel and air freight is prohibited. They also raised over $500,000 for relief work in Haiti less than a month after an earthquake devastated the country.

It’s as if the indie-rock gods from England received an advance copy of Haque’s book. That’s because Radiohead checked off nearly every cornerstone defined under Haque’s constructive capitalism.

Convert value chains into value cycles. Check.

Shift value propositions to value conversations. Check.

Shift from strategies to philosophies. Done.

Shift from protection to completions of marketplace. Shifted.

Yes, bands have long taken up socially-conscious issues and performed wonderful acts of philanthropy. Just look at Jack Johnson. He donated 100% of the profits from his 2010 tour and constantly promotes environmental awareness. But no contemporary artist or band is doing a better job of rattling the recording industry than Radiohead.

Haque’s book includes a quote from Brian W. Fitzpatrick. The creator and director of Google’s Data Liberation Front states, “Disrupt yourself before someone else comes along and does it.”

That’s exactly what Radiohead is doing. The stagnant music industry has operated under cornerstones of industrial era capitalism when technologies have dramatically altered the marketplace. iTunes redfined consumption methods and now artists such as Radiohead are eliminating the need for record labels and distributors while improving the customer experience.

The beneficiaries of this disruptive practice includes all parties. Radiohead creates music free of demands and limitations from record companies. The recording industry is forced to examine how they can improve their processes in order to compete. And customers decide exactly how they want to consume the product at lower prices while reducing the impact to our environment.

That’s better business. And so rock-n-roll

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