Radiohead tries to change the music biz with digital album

by Sarah Zupko

1 October 2007


Using their position as one of the biggest rock band’s in the world, Radiohead is attempting a game-changing move on the music industry. Music blogs are aflutter today at the news that Radiohead is releasing their newest album themselves via their website, radiohead.com, on 10 October.

Titled In Rainbows, the two-CD set is being released digitally without record label support and being marketed by word of mouth, not a Herculean task given that Radiohead has one of the most rabid fanbases in music.

In an innovative move sure to rankle the suits of music industry behemoths, both on the label and digital music store side, Radiohead is allowing fans to pay whatever they wish for the privilege of downloading the tracks on the 10th. The price next to the download says ““It’s up to you”. That’s an intriguing experiment that may well be a market test for what music lovers think is fair market value for MP3 audio tracks.

Apparently, you can pay as little as one pence for the tracks and 45 pence for credit card fees. Given the goodwill the band is showing in making this offer, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not vast amounts of people will try to score the album for next to nothing or whether the fanbase will help set a pricing structure that’s equitable for all parties with digital downloads.

For those who still enjoy album art and artistic packaging of their cultural objects, a deluxe two-CD, two-LP set will be available starting in December. That set will also include a collection of the band’s art and a bevy of photographs. Pre-orders for both started Sunday with the deluxe set being mailed from Britain starting on 3 December at the cost of £40, now more than $80 across the pond. Those that pony up for the set will also receive the downloads on 10 October.

Produced by favorite producer Nigel Godrich, the complete track listing of CD 1 is:

15 Step
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
All I Need
Faust Arp
House of Cards
Jigsaw Falling Into Place

The extra songs on the second CD of the Discbox are:

Down Is the New Up
Go Slowly
Last Flowers
Up on the Ladder
Bangers and Mash
4 Minute Warning

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