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Posted by: Jon Fine on October 01, 2007
For starters: Radiohead—probably the biggest unsigned band in the world—is putting out said album, In Rainbows, without any record label. For another: If you want to buy a digital download of the album, you go to Radiohead’s Web site and pay … whatever price you want to pay.
Getting physical copies of In Rainbows does cost something, but for a high price one gets a pretty luxe package.
The full story, from a very excited Pitchfork writer:
A new Radiohead album, out October 10! Nice surprise, huh? It’s called In Rainbows, duh. And it appears that Radiohead have chosen to not sign with a record label and are releasing it themselves via their website, at least for now.
And that’s probably the least crazy aspect of this whole thing.
You can pre-order it from their website right now as a download or a “discbox.” What’s a discbox? Why, it’s pretty sweet:
“THIS CONSISTS OF THE NEW ALBUM, IN RAINBOWS, ON CD AND ON 2 X 12 INCH HEAVYWEIGHT VINYL RECORDS.
A SECOND, ENHANCED CD CONTAINS MORE NEW SONGS, ALONG WITH DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHS AND ARTWORK.
THE DISCBOX ALSO INCLUDES ARTWORK AND LYRIC BOOKLETS.
ALL ARE ENCASED IN A HARDBACK BOOK AND SLIPCASE.
THE ALBUM DOWNLOAD AUTOMATICALLY COMES WITH THIS PACK.”
That will run you 40 pounds, or about $81 as of today. (Which next week could well be $85 or $90, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) But:
And lest you think Radiohead are ripping their fans off, check this out: If you order the download only, you can pay HOWEVER MUCH MONEY YOU WANT for it. Like, there’s no set price. Like, I just paid eight bucks for the new Radiohead album.
Maybe you can pay zero dollars?
Or 35 cents, for the entire 18 song digital package. (UPDATE: My bad—digital download is restricted to 8 songs. Thanks to commenter Albert for pointing this out. UPDATE, MACH II: Make that a ten song download.) Radiohead is trusting its fans to do the right thing, or something approximating the right thing.
And I tend to think they will.
File under “needless to say:” It’s very hard to imagine an actual big-deal record label attempting anything like this.
(Hat tip to my colleague and BusinessWeek art director Andrew Horton, who called this to my attention.)
The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.