It wasn’t too long ago that the only way to pick up the newest Radiohead album was to saunter (or shuffle if you are really emo) over to your local record store and plop down the $13-17 to walk out the owner of a crisp new CD… that will be scratched within the week because everybody will want to borrow it. Radiohead is now letting you decide how much their new album is worth, be it $15 or free.
It’s true that Radiohead is not the first band to offer free music online, but it is one of the first incredibly well known bands to offer an entire album online, potentially for free. The band’s publicist is fairly bullish in regards to how the online album experiment is working, adding that sales of the $80 ‘discobox’ edition of In Rainbows is fairly brisk.
The article brings up an interesting idea: allow casual listeners the ability to download an album at what they perceive to be fair market value, while offering the die-hard fans the extra CD, vinyl version, secret decoder ring and whatever else the band thinks it’s fans would enjoy, at a higher price. I know that if Faith No More, my band of choice circa 1992-2003, offered a special version of any of their albums, I would have purchased it in a heartbeat. I even bought poorly recorded bootlegs of live concerts and liked it! Imagine if I had authorized remixes of “Epic” or “Midlife Crisis” or even “Woodpecker From Mars” along with humorous anecdotes about why the band was constantly consumed with infighting! How about you?