By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News
O’Brien said money men had replaced creative people at record labels
The music industry is suffering because financial pressures mean money is being put ahead of creativity, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien has warned.
“I sense, and many artists sense, that it’s become dominated by money, and the need to make more money,” he said.
“And I think the problem with that is that the creativity’s gone out of the industry, the fun.”
O’Brien said the climate had changed in the last 10 years and “certainly it’s changed since we were signed” in 1991.
O’Brien is a leading member of the Featured Artists’ Coalition, a lobby group for artists’ rights, which has often been at odds with the major record labels.
His band, who are currently in the studio, were signed to EMI until 2003. They released their last album In Rainbows via their own website as well as striking a one-off deal with independent label XL.
Making comparisons with the industry in the 1960s and 70s, O’Brien said: “You realise there’s something hugely missing now.
“And I think that’s fun and creativity. That was the main thing. And I think the problem is that in the last 10-15 years it’s become about money and the money men are now running the companies, whereas traditionally it’s always been the creatives.
“So I think that’s a long-term thing and that’s important for the general health of the industry.”
O’Brien’s comments were made in a video message to the Midem music conference in Cannes.
He said the music industry’s current upheavals, however, presented big opportunities to bring creativity back.
“What’s great about the moment is the very fact that we’re living in this time of change, huge uncertainty, and of course these times are always accompanied by fear for some people.
“But I think there’s huge scope for massive innovation and creativity and that’s exactly what this industry needs, in my humble opinion.”