Free Radiohead Album Download
There's no doubt that the Internet has changed the music industry and in some ways that the big record labels don't like very much. In much the same way that Hollywood once "owned" their stars under contracts that gave the studios complete control over their actors' careers and even publicity, so the record labels for decades dictated what albums would be produced, what songs could appear and how they were distributed. Finally, recording artists can take their own product directly to the public and one of the industries biggest bands is doing so.

Thom York of Radiohead

Radiohead's new album In Rainbows is being distributed via the Internet exclusively. They are not currently under contract to any label and so are producing the album themselves and distributing it via their website. Pre-orders are being taken now but the download won't be available until October 10th.

What makes this sale slightly different is that Radiohead has set no price and asks fans to pay what they want to pay. You decide how much to pay for the album download, the price is blank for the customer to fill in. Radiohead may not be the first band to give away their music on the internet, but they are the biggest band to date that has done this.

There may be some who will take advantage of the offer and decide to pay nothing (although there could be some nominal fees) but it is also as likely that true fans will cough up a decent price for the band's seventh release.

There is a premium product, the Discbox, which costs £40. The Discbox includes the additional digital download. Don't worry, a currency converter will help you sort it out if you aren't in the UK.


This is's sales scheme, except that Magnatune set a minimum of $4.99 and a "suggestion" of $9.99 instead of leaving the whole thing up to you.

It's a novel concept, because iTunes tends to lend itself to only downloading a song or two that you've heard before, whereas this scheme requires you to want to the whole album.

Of course, despite that also puts you in a "pick out single tracks" scheme, I usually end up downloading whole albums anyway.

If I can think of only one criticism, what is the point of pre-ordering? Are they going to dictate download days to keep their server from being pounded to death on 10/10? Otherwise, we should thank a high profile artist for doing their best to lead new frontiers instead of being bested by it in the distant future.
Date Added: 09/10/2007

Radiohead is leading the way, with bands like Oasis and Madness considering doing the same thing. What they give away, is to their minds, a way to increase sales for concert tickets. Prince has done this with an album, to the dismay of the record company but let's face it, Prince is no longer a top recording artist. But, he does have a stage show, and it's worth it to him to drum up business for that.

Radiohead seems to be accepting the future better than the record labels are. This is the generation that thinks music is free - they are the generation of napster, kazaa and youtube.

What's more, fans don't seem to be taking them up on the free offer. Consider this from the Telegraph:

"Google say that searches for Radiohead have increased tenfold this week as fans log on to the band’s site, with the majority – according to the band’s spokesman – spurning the opportunity to download the album for as little as 45 pence and instead signing up for the £40 box set, which includes vinyl records, CD and artwork".

I think that fans may download the album, and decide after hearing it that they would like to have the boxed set with all the trappings. The vinyl is another thing that is getting more popular - the Sex Pistols just released their album "Never Mind The Bollocks" in a 30 year anniversary edition on vinyl.

The recording labels may find that if they don't keep up with the times and find a way to reach the market that is there, that soon their market will be gone.
Date Added: 09/10/2007

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