OK Go Says 'Okay... No' to EMI

OK Go it alone.
OK Go it alone.

Call 'em OK Go For Dolo. The formerly Chicago-based band, now relocated to Los Angeles, who rose to fame on the strength of its superb, Gondry-esque DIY music videos has just announced that it's splitting from EMI. OK Go has founded its own label, Paracadutes. Fittingly, that's Italian for "parachutes."

The group's new venture will handle its promotion and distribution, and according to a press release, OK Go has "always controlled [its] publishing, merchandise, touring, and all other non-recording rights."

Last week, West Coast Sound published an interview with the executive producer of the band's incredible Rube Goldberg-inspired new promo clip, "This Too Shall Pass." That video was filmed in the heart of Echo Park, so we'd like to imagine, at least, that the East Side's independent spirit helped spur the band's latest move.

Couple the details of the clip with the title of the featured song, and it's not hard to imagine that incredibly complicated R.G. machine -- which involves the destruction of a piano an ends with the band facing an automated firing squad -- as metaphorically representing the hulking old industry. With one key difference, of course: All of those moving parts actually kept moving throughout the process.

That was actually the second video shot for "This Too Shall Pass." The first, which features the Notre Dame marching band as musically inclined mossmen, fell under controversy after EMI applied its blanket "do-not-embed" policy to the clip. OK Go has seen massive success due to the viral nature of the contents of its shorts (sorry -- pun intended), and the band subsequently broke from rank to express its disapproval.

"We've been flooded with complaints recently because our YouTube videos can't be embedded on websites, and in certain countries can't be seen at all. And we want you to know: we hear you, and we're sorry. We wish there was something we could do. Believe us, we want you to pass our videos around more than you do, but, crazy as it may seem, it's now far harder for bands to make videos accessible online than it was four years ago. See, here's the deal. The recordings and the videos we make are owned by a record label, EMI."

The apology was actually a very well-considered, non-industry-bashing essay that anyone interested in the current state of the biz should read. (Singer Damian Kulash Jr. followed up with an op-ed piece in The New York Times.) It also included a Vimeo embed code for the marching band video, which probably ruffled a few feathers among the malnourished turkeys who pull the strings.

Whose hands control EMI owner Guy Hands?
Whose hands control EMI owner Guy Hands?

That said, today's press release stresses the amicable nature of the parting (even as it emphasizes the embeddable nature of the Goldberg clip, and even though the OK Go's new album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, has been out for less than two months).

The agreement goes into effect April 1, and we're quite sure that OK Go will be just fine on its own. Hell, without a bunch of doubting Thomases and nosy Nellies involved, the band may even be able to make music that's as fascinating as its videos.

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