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October 1, 2007


Radiohead is their own music industry

Radiohead In Rainbows

The big music news today is that, after a week of mysterious messages on a cryptic website, Radiohead has announced that their new album, In Rainbows, will be available October 10.

But here's the interesting stuff: they're not signed to a record label anymore, so they're releasing it themselves. And they're releasing it as an mp3 download (DRM-free, thank you very much!) Later this year, you'll also be able to buy an $80+ package that includes an album CD, a whole CD of extra tracks, the album on vinyl, the download of the album, and a lot of cool-looking artwork that you will probably love if you're a really serious fan.

But if you just want the album, you can purchase the download from their website... for whatever price you want. You can pre-order it now.

Few other bands could pull this off. Radiohead has enough fans that they don't need a label to promote them, and letting people name their own price for mp3's will probably only make the world love them more. And by letting listeners have a high-quality, DRM-free copy of the album for basically making a donation, they've done one of the only things a band can do to seriously dissuade people from leaking and downloading illegal copies of the album. The die-hards will shell out for the fancy CD/vinyl/mp3 package, and a whole lot of other people will give a few bucks (or whatever) directly to the band. Pretty easy to feel good about that, isn't it?

If you'd rather have the CD, you can wait until early next year and buy it, presumably for regular price.

It's another blow for the music industry. And what are they going to do about it, not include Radiohead's newest album on the charts? Who cares? Radiohead should go on tour with Prince and throw bricks through Capitol Records' windows.

It would be an interesting study of the economics of fandom to see the range of prices people choose to pay for the album. If no one will ever find out what a cheap bastard you are, would you just pay 10 cents? If you love Radiohead and support their campaign to further dismantle the record industry, but don't have to pay full iTunes-scale price for the download, would you still pay $10 for it? [Note: there is a transaction fee for downloading the album of 45p, about $1.]

OK, time to participate in some rockonomics market research!

How much did you pay for the Radiohead album?

Answer in the comments. Be honest!

categories: Business, Music
posted by amy at 1:55 PM | #

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Three pounds

Posted by: cushie at October 1, 2007 2:59 PM

Me too! 3 pounds.

Posted by: amy at October 1, 2007 3:06 PM

4 pounds.

Posted by: C Davis at October 1, 2007 9:09 PM

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