Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music

November 14, 2007

EMI scam to cash in on Radiohead

Filed under: Music Industry — maths @ 6:42 pm
In Rainbows v2

In a sneaky move by EMI to cash in on Radiohead’s unprecedented popularity, EMI had been running a scam ad campaign on Google until the end of last week, purporting to already have the new Radiohead album “In Rainbows” in boxset and CD versions for sale even before the official release in December. In an attempt to obviously mislead and cheat users, EMI used the phrase “Rainbow” in the ad which appears as a paid listing at the top of search results when users searched for the keyword “Radiohead” in Google.

Google Radiohead v1

Clicking on the ad instead led users to EMI/ Parlophone’s own site selling Radiohead’s back catalogue boxset of 7 albums with no sight of the promised new album “Rainbow”.

Radiohead Store v1

Guardian Unlimited Music first reported this yesterday and followed up with Parlophone to ascertain the source of the ad and were instead given a one line email by EMI publicist Chris Latham which stated,

“Parlophone were aware of the data source glitch and removed the link immediately.”

I’m not sure which is more pathetic and abhorrent, their cheating or trying to explain their machinations away as a “data source glitch” - especially as the phrase “Rainbow” should not even have existed in EMI’s marketing material as the album in question has already been assigned to XL Recordings. It is indeed insulting that they take the public for fools with this attempt to obfuscate - but unfortunately there are already victims of the truth as the BBC fell for it and summarized the incident as “A glitch on Google nearly sparked a war between Radiohead and their former label EMI.”
So now it’s someone else’s fault….(but at least Idolator & Pitchfork give fair accounts)

When new EMI chief Guy Hands noted in an internal memo recently that, “Rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, the industry has stuck its head in the sand”, surely their efforts to now ride the digital gravy train should not misguidedly follow the tracks of Nigerian-419 type scams and pharmaceutical spam?

To call EMI’s management team’s honor into question over this incident might be a little harsh, but surely they should be held accountable for allowing an environment of stupidity to fester wherein their staffers could even entertain the thought, much less conceive a consumer campaign based on deceit, without giving due consideration to the fact that Radiohead and its products are under such intense scrutiny and public spotlight.

Even though Radiohead has tried to defuse the sorry situation with a band spokesman stating to NME that, “We accept that it was a genuine error and that it has been rectified”,
it has to be recognized that EMI still has Radiohead by the proverbial family jewels as they have in their grip not only the early Radiohead masters but are also the gatekeepers of Radiohead’s valuable back catalogue. If you value your kids’ well-being, it is unwise to piss off the babysitter just before you step out the house.

Ultimately, this is not just about “In Rainbows” sales only, but about a misleading ad by EMI seeking potential customers in a search environment in which the users are hitherto uninitiated about the product. Hence the users effort to search and find out more about the product in question instead leads them trickily to another place (even though we have to admit that this other place has fine products albeit an overpriced USB set) – there are advertising laws against this practice.

While major labels can claim a roll call of dishonour in the traditional world with dubious accounting practices and payola amongst others, it seems that they are quickly making up for lost time in the digital world with their recent rap sheets of rootkit fiascos, fake BitTorrent sites, stupidity and now, scam ads….

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  1. I like that bear though ;-). Hang on guv, how much? 80 Quid?

    Blimey guv, I could do me own knock off, sell it around Hoxton, Lower East Side, Mitte, Silver Lake, Shibuya for 40 Quid, couldn’t I?????!!!!!! :-)

    Comment by minoruuuu — November 14, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  2. Until the labels fully realize that they must embrace the online world in a completely transparent way they will continue to fail. Here’s a paper entitled The Effect of File Sharing On Record Sales that shows that filesharing was never the problem.

    Comment by Dave Allen — November 14, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

  3. […] is tricking potential customers with a Radiohead In Rainbows flavored Google ad […]

    Pingback by Links for 11.14.07: Obama’s CTO, Imeem’s Zep, R2’s sauce + « the listenerd — November 14, 2007 @ 10:23 pm

  4. […] (via Music 2.0) […]

    Pingback by Remixtures » Blog Archive » EMI engana fãs dos Radiohead com anúncio no Google — November 15, 2007 @ 6:55 am

  5. well, if the boy and girl wanted to start their relationship again, it’s like they all do. START AGAIN! examine what went wrong, why it went wrong, talk about it, consult people about it, see a shrink or a counsellor if you need to. then start again, bit by bit. ;-)

    Comment by minoruuuu — November 15, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

  6. […] and destructive purposes – DRM, rootkit subterfuge, P2P spoofing, fake torrent sites and online scam ads. As Thomas Hesse, Sony-BMG’s digital head who was behind the rootkit fiasco stated with arrogant […]

    Pingback by Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » Time for Luddite & Wanton Label Chiefs to go — December 12, 2007 @ 1:52 am

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