Tuesday, October 02, 2007


A wacky work schedule makes it impossible to write any long form piece, but I can't go to bed without taking a moment to marvel about the news of Radiohead's newest album.

One of the most influential rock bands in the world has announced that they're releasing their latest album via their website. It will be available via digital download and fans will pay as little or as much as they wish.

Where to start?

First, the news that their long awaited album will be released in a week is very exciting. I saw Radiohead in Los Angeles last year when they were road testing many of their new songs. Since then I've been anxious to hear his album. The band has a great back catalog, but their new songs were some of the highlights of the LA concert. This could be one of their best albums yet.

But then there's the distribution method. They're doing a complete end run around record labels by distributing their own album electronically. Physical versions of the In Rainbows will eventually be available. A special edition CD/vinyl version will come out in December, and a traditional CD will hit stores sometime in 2008. But the album will be out there, on the Internet, next week.

In an interview on public radio last June, Thom Yorke said he had no interest in starting a revolution that destroys the record labels. In fact, the prospect of trying to self-distribute this album practically gave him a headache (too many band meetings, etc.) But with this week's announcement, Radiohead may just have fired the first shot in that revolution. The major labels' only hope is Radiohead doesn't have enough bandwidth to deliver the goods next week. (It seems almost certain that excessive demand will crash their server... but I'm far from a tech expert.)

As for price, I'll be interested to hear what people pay. I have a hunch that Radiohead will make out quite handsomely from this arrangement. Their fan base tend to be music nerds who aren't afraid to pay for music. And even if a person pays only $5 for the download, Radiohead will likely see far more money from that than from a $17 CD. Indeed, the $80 CD/vinyl set appears to be selling better than the variable priced download.

When I start downloading the tunes next week, I may well be listening to the sound of the music industry being turned on its ear. But I'm much more excited to hear the songs.

Counting the days.



At 10:58 am, Blogger Ellen said...

Very cool. Thanks for the info. Will be looking forward to your review of the album!

At 6:53 am, Blogger Birchsprite said...


It's delurking day...so I thought I'd pop by and say hello.

So Hello

At 7:51 am, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

So... how much will/did you pay?

At 11:33 pm, Blogger Workman said...

I actually shelled out the 40 pounds for the box set.


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