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Author Topic: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?  (Read 5938 times)

glynor

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OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« on: October 03, 2007, 12:14:07 pm »

In case you've been living under a rock...

http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1666973,00.html

Quote
Roughly 12,000 albums are released in an average year, so the announcement late Sunday night that the new Radiohead record, In Rainbows, will be out Oct. 10 is not itself big news. Sure, Radiohead is on a sustained run as the most interesting and innovative band in rock, but what makes In Rainbows important easily the most important release in the recent history of the music business are its record label and its retail price: there is none, and there is none.

In Rainbows will be released as a digital download available only via the band's web site, Radiohead.com. There's no label or distribution partner to cut into the band's profits but then there may not be any profits. Drop In Rainbows' 15 songs into the online checkout basket and a question mark pops up where the price would normally be. Click it, and the prompt "It's Up To You" appears. Click again and it refreshes with the words "It's Really Up To You" and really, it is. It's the first major album whose price is determined by what individual consumers want to pay for it. And it's perfectly acceptable to pay nothing at all.

You can "buy" it here: http://www.inrainbows.com/

I paid $6.  I feel it is very important to support them in this venture, and $6 is WAY more than the band would have actually gotten had they released it via a label on CD or even via iTunes or similar stores.  There's been quite a bit of coverage on this over the past few days, so I'm sure most people know about this, but just in case you didn't I thought I'd post about it here.

There's some other good coverage out there too... One of my favorites is actually from MTV (I know):  http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1571043/20071002/id_0.jhtml

And, perhaps the best quote of all is in that Time article I linked above:

Quote
[W]hen informed of the news on Sunday, several record executives admitted that, despite the rumors, they were stunned. "This feels like yet another death knell," emailed an A&R executive at a major European label. "If the best band in the world doesn't want a part of us, I'm not sure what's left for this business."

Labels can still be influential and profitable by focusing on younger acts that need their muscle to get radio play and placement in record stores but only if the music itself remains a saleable commodity. "That's the interesting part of all this," says a producer who works primarily with American rap artists. "Radiohead is the best band in the world; if you can pay whatever you want for music by the best band in the world, why would you pay $13 dollars or $.99 cents for music by somebody less talented? Once you open that door and start giving music away legally, I'm not sure there's any going back."
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MerlinWerks

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2007, 02:18:15 pm »

Yes, this is going to be interesting and I plan on supporting them as well. Does anyone know what format will be used for the download?
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glynor

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2007, 02:37:09 pm »

Yes, this is going to be interesting and I plan on supporting them as well. Does anyone know what format will be used for the download?

It will be MP3.  No word on bitrate.  Hopefully it'll be nice quality.  Knowing radiohead and the way they use technology, I'd guess that it'll probably be at least fairly high-quality.

We will see.

Of course, I'll be firing up Azureus I imagine to grab a copy of the "bonus CD" which is only included with the "premium" box set.
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2007, 03:52:58 am »

Of course, I'll be firing up Azureus I imagine to grab a copy of the "bonus CD" which is only included with the "premium" box set.

Are you suggesting the "free" download is just a marketing campaign for the $50 box set? Never.
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glynor

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2007, 08:37:26 am »

Are you suggesting the "free" download is just a marketing campaign for the $50 box set? Never.

It's $81 (40), not $50, and no... Considering that each one is individually made-to-order, I doubt they plan to sell many of them.  I think they intend to see how much money they earn off of the "free" download.

Keep in mind that your average "well compensated, established artist" typically receives approximately $2 per "album unit" sold ($1 royalty to the composer and $1 royalty to the performer).  And, remember, the vast majority of record contracts require that the artist, not the label, is responsible for promotional and production costs for the album out of "their share" which can significantly reduct the actual royalty payments.

Of course, Radiohead could probably command a large premium (especially considering that their record contract had expired so they are "free agents").  But, even assuming that they pull in double that (so they would get $4 per unit), and that they actually keep all of that money, Radiohead doesn't need many people like me willing to pay $6 (not to mention all the die-hards that'll actually pay the $81) in order to compensate for any "lost" revenue from the people who would have bought the CD but will now pay $0 for the download.  Their costs are extremely low.  Basically just bandwidth and web design costs, and they haven't yet announced how the download itself will actually happen -- perhaps Bittorrent?  And, they aren't losing anything from those who would have just downloaded the music off of Pirate Bay (while getting some good will in exchange by making them not feel like criminals), because they would have paid $0 anyway.  Perhaps some of those people will actually pay to go see them live (which is where these artists make the lion's share of their profits anyhow), and perhaps some (like me) will actually pay to support the new distribution model.

Besides, they've already announced that they're in negotiations to release the album via traditional means (CD in stores) with a number of different labels.... The CD should come out in early 2008.  And that is the real point of this experiment.  They're saying "We don't need you" to the record companies.  The current model is that an artist signs a contract with a record label and essentially becomes "an employee" of the label for a set period of time, in exchange for that label's production, distribution, and promotional capabilities.

However, the world we live in is quite different.  Radiohead is saying: (1) we have our own studios (which you made us pay for anyway), (2) we have our own promotional apparatus (which you made us pay for anyway), and (3) now we can even distribute our work ourselves.  This is about changing that relationship between the label and the artist to one where the artist hires a label for a specific album or product (rather than the other way around).  In other words...  Why isn't the model: we make the album, we shop around for the label with the best terms (while distributing our work online to those who will pay), then we sell the right to make our album into a traditional CD on a one-off basis to the highest bidder.  Next time we make an album, we do the same thing, and maybe there is a different highest bidder.

In other words... Capitalism and competition.  Something that has been missing in the music industry for a long, long time.
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2007, 10:42:56 am »

Blimey. Thom Yorke is Spartacus. Sounds great, well done to him and the rest of them.
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rjm

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2007, 12:45:48 pm »

This is really significant and will be exciting to watch unfold.

Thanks for sharing Glynor.
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2007, 06:29:58 pm »

each one is individually made-to-order

Sounds like an extra track and a tacky badge to me.

Hey, I've nothing against people distributing and marketing their wares as they like, but really, Radiohead are just showing good business sense. This is a great way to market themselves and their new album. Brilliant, if only they'd come up with it themselves. The Spin have gone spinning because they're bigger than the rest put together. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of their music, but I don't see this Radiohead vs Corporate thing, it just stinks of money. However, I'm REALLY interested to hear the album for 0. Just like I do in HMV. If it's good, I'll buy it, promise.
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zirum

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2007, 10:46:49 am »

Is it really so that they store credit card information, or is it just a bad flow/presentation on the page?

Don't like the idea of having all my account information stored somewhere on the net...
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RiderFan

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2007, 04:26:04 pm »

Radiohead is the best band in the world? I've never heard of them till today!
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datdude

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2007, 05:15:15 pm »

To some they are gods, to others they are the scourge of the earth.  Choose wisely...
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gappie

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2007, 05:52:58 pm »

they are an interesting pop band. i like their initiative. just an other step. do they take paypal?  :)
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2007, 07:00:51 am »

Quite a quick, interesting read;

What is Radiohead's album worth?

Think I'll def have a listen first.
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KingSparta

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2007, 02:05:15 pm »

I only liked one of there songs, and it was used on a commercial.

I think this is more of a publicity stunt to attempt to drive up the groups awareness more than anything else.

It was on our local news the other day.

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skeeterfood

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2007, 01:31:52 pm »

Admittedly, this whole thing smells more like a perfectly executed viral PR campaign than a new trend in music distribution, but I like it either way.

If you're looking for some user generated cover art for the digital download, check out:
http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/cover-art-for-in-rainbows

-John
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2007, 02:10:48 pm »

It may a trend in music distribution - certainly not new. Other bands have tried to sell their albums online, notably a band called Elbow that tried to sign Radiohead to their label Skinny Dog Records. Not sure it worked out though, and it didn't get a fraction of the publicity of Radiohead. See, you need publicity. And for that, you need high profile or money to build one. Radiohead vs Corporate Music is simply one corp fighting another, not very exciting at all.

I think it's well known now that if you build up a good gig following then you are able to make a decent amount of profit from distributing your own CD's or selling over the net or both. To dance with the big boys or go west across the Atlantic though you need someone with clout behind you. The Arctic Monkeys are a good example of this kind of approach.
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2007, 05:03:37 am »

Finally listened to it, and it's actually a very good album in my opinion, not impressed by the 160 fixed bitrate though.

Well worth a few quid however, much better than their last offering.
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pank2002

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2007, 12:52:36 pm »

Actually, I believe Magnatune “invented” this model. (Not a hundred percent sure, though). Please check this post for more info.
-Rasmus
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prod

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Re: OT - New Radiohead Album... Free?
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2007, 11:17:10 am »

Following up on this story, those interested in stats should check this out;

Mixed Rainbow For Radiohead
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