Well, the new album is finished, and it’s coming out in 10 days;
We’ve called it In Rainbows.
Love from us all.
It’s been a great week to be a Radiohead fan and it’s just going to get better. From the Dead Air Space announcement to the excitement/confusion/amazement around the “No Really, It’s Up to You” concept, to the fallout all over the internets it has been interesting, to say the least.
It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog much that Radiohead are my favourite band and have been for over a decade now. They really are an important band to me: OK Computer changed my life, I’ve seen them live so many times it’s a tad embarrassing etc etc. So I guess I was kind of proud all week that it was Radiohead who decided to do something really different with their new album.
I was shocked that they managed to keep it quiet but I was once again impressed that they decided to drop the news on a weekend (much like the announcement of The Eraser) so that fans heard it first directly from band/Dead Air Space rather than the NME.
The reaction to the In Rainbows announcement has been huge with articles popping up absolutely everywhere. Because it was announced on a weekend it was music bloggers that had their first crack at the news (although Pitchfork once again broke protocol by updating on the weekend for Radiohead news) and the reaction was generally pretty positive although some were initially skeptical, some slightly cynical, while others just wanted to see how simply mentioning the news would affect their hit count.
For the rest of these articles I provide my homage to Largehearted Boy’s shorties arranged in time (roughly) beginning with stories that immediately followed Radiohead’s announcement. This is the week that was for Radiohead fans.
asked How Much Will You Pay for the New Radiohead album?
So, the simple point of this blog is how much should I pay? It’s not like they need the money, but I personally feel you should pay artists for something you will treasure. Of course, not having heard it yet, In Rainbows could turn out to be as mediocre as Hail to the Thief, full of half-baked ideas rather than songs. In that case, would it be better to pay nothing now on the assumption that I will buy a second copy for £7.99 if I like it (the price of an album on iTunes)?*
(an Industry stalwart) could not have been happy.
Radiohead exited longtime label home EMI in 2005 and has yet to announce a new deal for distribution of its music beyond the “In Rainbows” package. But according to its publicist, the band will release a physical version of “In Rainbows” in 2008, with details to be announced.*
actually managed to interview a frightened record exec.
Few suspected the band members had the ambition (or the server capacity) to put an album out on their own. The final decision was apparently made just a few weeks ago, and, when informed of the news on Sunday, several record executives admitted that, despite the rumors, they were stunned. “This feels like yet another death knell,” emailed an A&R executive at a major European label. “If the best band in the world doesn’t want a part of us, I’m not sure what’s left for this business.”*
The New York Times blog
was enchanted by the “It’s Up to You” price scheme.
There is no maximum price, nor any other guidance, setting up what is may be the biggest experiment in digital-era music-industry pricing to date. What are people willing to pay for music? How many will pay full price? How will the average price compare to what a typical record company would likely have charged? Will people pirate it anyway?*
The Times Online
declared, The Revolution Starts Here.
What this move relies on is the notion that there is between Radiohead and their fans a collateral of trust and, dare the term be uttered, decency. This is the very thing that has propelled the band to unprecedented autonomy. If it works, it will — at the click of a few million mice — make them the most powerful band in Britain.*
was pretty excited.
It’s not like Radiohead’s living in a different world. But they’re playing by a different rule book. One that says the money flows from the music, that people have to believe in you, that you’ve got to treat them right.*
Here in Sydney, the Sydney Morning Herald
reported on the news as well.
Radiohead, along with the Beatles, are one of the few big name acts whose work is not available on Apple’s iTunes Store. In Radiohead’s case, it’s because the band is opposed to selling individual album tracks.*
Tiny Mix Tapes
was…well Tiny Mix Tapes.
Radiohead mark the first for a band of this magnitude to forgo the label and distribution process entirely to record, produce, and deliver the music on their terms. Well, that’s not true. Radiohead are delivering the album on your terms.*
The Best Week Ever
win for best headline.
Radiohead Bends Record Industry Over Conference Table And Goes To Town.*
Shockingly, it was a writer at MTV
who wrote my favourite piece on the whole thing.
It’s something that doesn’t happen often enough to me these days, which is a shame. I miss experiencing something like a real fan, at the exact same time other fans are experiencing it. Maybe people will invite their friends over, download it together, experience it all at once. And when was the last time you could say that about an album? Is In Rainbows gonna be any good? Probably. But that’s not important. The beauty of it all is that we’re all gonna get to find out together.*
Hallelujuah the Hills frontman Ryan Walsh weighs in for the Boston Phoenix
But you can’t help but think that Radiohead’s presentation of this new business model will eventually filter down to the little fish too. It would be foolish to start guessing exactly how that will work just yet. But recall what Anton Newcombe said in the movie Dig!: “Until they can write the letter I’m writing they are the postman and I am the letter writer.” He was using the postman as a metaphor for what he believed record companies essentially do but, here, ironically, Radiohead is releasing this album merely with help from the post office itself. No metaphor required. Wow. Here we go.*
“Good luck, Radiohead. I tried that with my old comic books and they’ve been on eBay for like three years.”*
has an interview with Stanley Donwood about the Discbox.
“It’s been a long journey over ten months, with the artwork evolving as the music has evolved. And it weighs about half a kilo.”*
The Daily Swarm
has been tracking progress on the inevitable record deal.
What Price Did You Choose?
is a site surveying what people have voluntarily paid for In Rainbows
The Times Online
: The Day the Music Industry Died.
What looks like commercial suicide is, in today’s reality, sound business sense. Records, CDs or downloads now have all become downgraded to the status of promotional tools – useful to sell concert tickets and fan paraphernalia. While there is still good money to be made in music, and particularly on the concert circuit, the record business – blame it on piracy, too many CD giveaways or the advent of the recordable CD – is a busted flush.*
thinks advertisers, marketers, and PR people should follow Radiohead’s Four Rules of Unmarketing.
1. Make it great.*
It’s time to ‘fess up here. Prince doesn’t work for me because I just don’t feel the funk and, in my humble emo opinion, Radiohead are just about the best band on this little planet.
The Badger Herald
wonders if In Rainbows
If listeners grab the album and play it into the ground within a few months, will the enthusiasm carry over into purchase six months later? Radiohead may be marketing masters, but for a band that’s covered nearly every genre, the expectations are almost insurmountable. If the 10-track album is well-crafted, but has few groundbreaking songs, it seems they couldn’t possibly awe the populace again.*
takes into account other bands who have tried similar things.
Other bands have flirted with this—most notably Nine Inch Nails, which streamed its Year Zero album online for free and actually loaded bit-torrents of it to P2P sites—of course, the band also called its label “thieves,” so there may have been more going on there.*
For a band that has always gone against the grain (i.e. taking their own tent on tour to avoid corporate sponsorship; not releasing a single for Kid A; touring old Roman amphitheatres in 2000), I was left incredibly satisfied this week that Radiohead had once again surprised me as they head out into uncharted waters one more time.
Tomorrow we find out what that journey sounds like.