back to article Radiohead lets fans price new CD

Labelless, but hardly penniless, Radiohead are letting their fans set the price for digital downloads of the band's new CD. Fans will be able to pay as little as 1p - plus a mandatory 45p credit card fee - for the In Rainbows album. The new release will also be available in physical form - £40 for a box-set - easily affordable …


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  1. John Latham

    Like a pig, a cage...

    ...does it have DRM?

    Website doesn't say, and being a Radiohead fan, I have no friends to ask.


  2. Bill Fresher

    46p is a bargain

    "How ironic that these impeccable liberals should be endorsing trickle down economics and contributing to a wider disparity in wealth."

    I'd have bought the album if it had cost me £9.99. Since I can legitimately buy it for 46p the rest can go towards going to see an up and coming band play.

  3. Ben Holmes

    In Rainbows

    It's a fairly Hippy-tastic album name, even for Radiohead.

    *Goes home to listen to The Bends, when songs were songs, guitar bands were guitar bands, and nobody arsed around with the tried and tested Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus structure*

  4. MattW

    I would rather stick needles in my eyes.

    Than listen to (let alone buy) a Radiohead album.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fallacious argument

    Given that 1) their previous label (EMI) was hardly known for acts of artistic philanthropy and 2) you have no idea how Radiohead spend their money since leaving EMI, this is little more than mean-spirited speculation, isn't it?

  6. J

    And rightly so...

    "recent trend of rich popstars giving away their recorded material - while keeping more of the bounty for themselves"

    And rightly so, methinks. The only problem is: how to become a rich popstar in the first place without the pesky, greedy record companies doing all the marketing in the beginning -- because of course people need to be told what to like and where to get it...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This was done years ago, before iTunes and the current crop of associated DRM-friendly players, when (illegal) file-sharing was at its Napster-tastic best. Anyone heard of the Smashing Pumpkins? They released Machina II online in mp3 format in a bid to piss off their record label (and push their back-catalogue, no doubt - marketing at its most obvious). Think it worked. Best of all, it was free!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not such a giveaway

    If I wanted to get Radiohead's new album for free I'm sure I could find it quickly enough and download it illegally.

    Surely anyone who was going to buy this legally, be it from iTunes or any other download store, will still pay a reasonable amount of money for it, as otherwise you're just robbing the band as blind as if you stole it? If you didn't care about that sort of thing you'd just get it for free, after all.

    However, I don't suppose Radiohead care much if everyone downloads it for 8p each, because that's at least 8p they wouldn't get if it had been illegally downloaded...

  9. Andy Barber


    Not all bed-wetters are bourgeois!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor EMI now they can't finance an emerging band

    ...because that's where all the money from Radiohead's sales would have gone, right?

    Like the money from Coldplay's sales has turned EMI into a heaven for new bands. Of course when major labels issue four singles (each of them in CD1 and CD2 formats) even from the crappiest albums they are doing it to promote innovation in the arts.

    I think the Sex Pistols at the end of "Never Mind The Bollocks" had a good summary about what the majors deserve for what they have done to music.

  11. Martin Owens

    I know bands

    I know bands that will push other lesser bands when they get further to the top simply because the band members happen to like the music of the lesser band.

    Seen it happen and there is no reason to think that this won't happen again. although we're talking about real musicians, not people like prince or the spice girls.

  12. Matt Bradley

    Manufacture / Distribution Costs and Advances

    I imagine that after repaying their advances (plus interest), manufacturing and distribution, and promotion costs, and the label's cut, most new signing major label bands would be extremely lucky to see 1p per copy (on average) of their record sold.

    I imagine the Radiohead's cut was considerably better than that, but perhaps this is an illustration of just /how much/ of the a cost of the retail price of an album is being spent on something other than the music.

  13. Sam

    @the record companies

    ...Karma Police?

    I kept me coat on.

  14. John Stag

    Music that musicians would listen to...?

    "I know bands that will push other lesser bands when they get further to the top simply because the band members happen to like the music of the lesser band."

    Music that even other musicians would listen to? Now there's an idea...

    Bands don't need record labels as promoters any more. A mixture of free mp3s and sites like Facebook takes "word of mouth" to a whole new level.

    These days a blogger can have as much power as a big radio DJ in the days before radio-payola became an epidemic. When was the last time you discovered some decent music through radio/TV?

    The sooner upcoming bands figure this out, the better.

  15. SM

    Who's subsidising this post?

    "But successful artists have always been able to subsidise more interesting but less popular artists on the roster... When the rich keep more for themselves, there's less for everyone else."

    Aside from a weak and whiny assertion about Radiohead's fan base, this statement is about all there is to Mr. Orlowski's argument. I doubt he truly believes that EMI's profits from big sellers have somehow wound up in the pockets of emerging artists, but does anyone actually believe that they're simply "subsidised"? Most of the cost of producing and promoting a record is not a gift to the artist, but rather a loan; the artist doesn't begin to make any money until the costs have been recouped from the royalties. A label that houses a band like Radiohead can front higher budgets, but often to the detriment of lesser-known artists, who command fewer royalties and might take years to recoup the costs even as their records turn a profit for the labels. By Mr. Orlowski's bizarre logic, artists whose albums are selling but who have not yet recouped are actually "subsidising" the multimillion dollar marketing budgets that keep our cities plastered with Coldplay posters, rather than the other way around.

    No artist or writer that takes a liberal stance in a commercial medium is immune to charges of hypocrisy, but what Mr. Orlowski have to say if Radiohead rescinded their sliding-scale deal and announced that they've agreed to renew their contract for the benefit of other artists with a corporate record deal? Have any of the bands he actually likes claimed to do this?

    There are far better criticisms to be made of the new album. Starting with the title. WTF?!

  16. Ben Holmes

    @John Stag

    Oh look. We figured it out. :-D

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few years back

    I remember a band being interviewed on the radio and saying that of the £10 the interviewer paid for their album they'd see about 50p. The interview got repeated with that edited out.

    Seems likely people will be more than happy to pay 50p for a download.

  18. John A

    The truth is out there

    Now we know AO is actually just a DRM vehicle for the record companies in disguise. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  19. Leo Davidson

    Not for bedwetters

    I think you will find that Coldplay are defined as "Radiohead for bedwetters" so Radiohead themselves cannot be for bedwetters, else they and Coldplay would be the same band, and I can assure you they are not.

    More the the point, couldn't you keep your musical taste (or lack of) out of the sodding article?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I know bands

    Maybe you were joking, but "musicality" is not synonymous with "musicians liked by Martin Owens." Folks don't get much more musical than Prince.. look it up.

  21. Christopher Lindley

    Radio versus Radiohead

    " These days a blogger can have as much power as a big radio DJ in the days before radio-payola became an epidemic. When was the last time you discovered some decent music through radio/TV?"

    It will be interesting, given the incestuous relationship between radio and the recording industry, whether Radiohead's new internet-distributed album gets played on the radio at all. Radio won't have anything to gain except keeping their listeners (er, advertisers) happy.

    That may not make any difference to a band with Radiohead's following: Radio and the recording industry are both on their way out anyway, having failed to overcome their bureaucratic inertia with the rapidly changing times.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Strange, when I preordered the album I chose 0.00 as a price. Order went through, didn't need to put in my card details, and I received a confirmation email. Have they changed it?

    (I see Radiohead live at every opportunity and that's where the money really is for them, so I don't feel bad)

  23. Alien8n


    There's a rather excellent music blogging site at that I use. And yes, I've discovered some new bands using it. It's rather good as it allows you to compare what you're listening to with what other people with similar tastes in music are listening to.

    I've also written a 3 piece blog on where I think the music industry have screwed up regarding their business model and how they treat musicians. Promote up and coming bands? Like hell do they, they seem more interested in stopping up and coming bands from selling records to keep their other artists sales up. if you want to read my take on the record industry.

  24. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Try thinking

    SM - If you read my story again, you'll see you've misunderstood the subsidize equation. Then, if you read your post again, you'll be amazed to discover you agree with me.

    No matter how you slice it, the consequence is a lower gross investment in A&R.

  25. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Keep drinking the Kool Aid

    John Stag -

    "These days a blogger can have as much power as a big radio DJ in the days before radio-payola became an epidemic."

    Care to name a blogger with the influence of John Peel? You'd be a happier man if you saw the world as it really is, rather than fantasizing about it.

    "When was the last time you discovered some decent music through radio/TV?"

    Yesterday, the day before that - and the day before that, too.

    You're obviously not listening to the wrong radio stations :-)

  26. Luke Wells

    This is fantastic!!!!

    Absolutely FANTASTIC to see someone having the balls to do this.

    Charging 46p for an album is going eliminate a HUGE chunk of piracy.

    Radiohead have done the most sensible thing I have ever seen anyone in the music industry do! They have actually realised that 1p is better than nothing. If a song is pirated they get nothing, and you can't stop piracy. Of course plently of people are going to pay more that 1p, I bet that plenty of fans would pay £10 or more, so that would be £9.55 to them, instead of a few pence from a record label!

    Why doesn't everyone in the world see the common sense in this? 1p from everyone who would normally not have paid for a download and £9.55 from the core fans, as well of plenty inbetween! I hope they make a shed load of money from this!

    I am not a Radiohead fan, but I am going to go and download their album for 46p just to support the concept, even though I probably won't listen to it.

    Lets hope more follow suit.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    eeee when woz a lad t'up north!

    Most Majors (including thier so called indie-sub brands) just push music tothe mindless... rememebr the day when music was played upon its release, not 3 months ahead of realse date just to get the best possible sales spike in week 1 to bid for No.1 Spot?

    think how callously they pulled at dodgey but popular elvis remix so that another band could fulfill its places as thats weeks no.1 instead.

    in the 50s + 60s you had lots of groups admitteldy goimg and going, some stayed, but the record industry didnt have stranglehold on what, where or when music was played and popular culture lived on! maybe becuase there were no monopolies telling to buy this weeks new wonder!

    stop selling formulaic trash and let creativity flourish! music shoudl be about culture popular or otherwise, why do people have to get rich from eveything? we have millenia of muscians and artists doing musci for fun, pleasure and society!

    I do my job knowing i am never gonna be rich!

    i notice price may have gave away his cd, but he packed out the o2 area making millions, probably more than if had produced and marketed his album via "conventional" menas

  28. Bill Fresher

    A&R money

    "No matter how you slice it, the consequence is a lower gross investment in A&R."

    Yeah, they should have released it through a record company and charged £79.99 a copy (I'm sure there are a fair few radiohead fans who would have paid), once sales slump reduce the price slightly and carry on with this procedure until the maximum possible amount of money has been made.

  29. Vulpes Vulpes

    Transparent stunt

    So this is a radical move is it? Good grief.

    Either you pay next to nothing for some sodding MP3s, or shell out 40 quid for a boxed set with, ooh look! Photographs. Vinyl. "Enhanced content".

    And the music will follow one of the two typical Radiohead "song" patterns, either an interesting chord sequence with opaque lyrics building from an acoustic start to a crescendo of wailing anguish, or an unlistenable barrage of noise overlaying a crescendo of wailing anguish.

    They haven't done anything interesting since Creep.

    Tosh advertising tosh delivered in either tosh or dosh format.

  30. Paul

    The music industry is dead. Long live the music industry.

    The tired argument that big bands on a major label roster subsidise 'up and coming' artists is getting boring. Mostly big bands subsidise lots of overheads, swanky offices, big leather chairs and dozens of middlemen smoking cigars.

    Using Tony Wilson's Factory as an example is a fallacy; Factory was not in any way a typical or even ever repeated example. In fact Factory was technically not even a label in the generally understood way. It was a sort of commune. Bands retained the rights to their own music. Yes the 'label' subsidised the Hacienda, which spent 80% of it's existence as either a complete flop or a danger to society, albeit with the other 20% of brilliance. Likewise the music roster produced some shocking rubbish, which of course is conveniently and thankfully forgotten. Factory was a wonderful thing that created some wonderful music, but it was in no way a shining beacon of good practice.

    Name some real major label examples of this hippy-esque cross-subsidation altruism you speak of. Go on. I dare you. Name one seriously interesting band that was 'nurtured' with cash from a mainstream success. Look at the big successes of the last few years - Franz Ferdinand or The Streets for example - these were artists with passion who did their own thing because they wanted to, not because of some major label subsidised love-in.

    Stop being such a luddite Orlowski. Radiohead know exactly what they're doing - namely sticking their boots into the dying embers of a horrifically inefficient, corrupt, exploitation-driven industry and showing the rest of the world that without all the middle men, music can be sold at a consumer-friendly price and still make people a living.

    Paying for promotion? Don't be so ridiculous, this is the internet and this is 2007, the days of are long gone. Did the star wars kid need a marketing department? Was 'all your base are belong to us' dreamt up by a consultant at Saatchi's? How big is Facebook's ad budget? Talk to the kids Andrew, they find new bands on MySpace, not on XFM. Sorry mate, but your analysis is old school, past it's sell by date and irrelevant.

    The music industry is dead. Long live the music industry.

  31. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: This is fantastic!!!!

    "I am not a Radiohead fan, but I am going to go and download their album for 46p just to support the concept, even though I probably won't listen to it."

    Hey, Luke!

    Can I sell you a bridge? Prices start at 47p per brick.

  32. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: The music industry is dead. Long live the music industry.

    Your hatred is blinding you Paul.

    The old model is dead. But in your narrow and selective view of the world, the only labels you see are "bad" labels. There were plenty of "good" labels, and they were able to go their own way because their most successful stars didn't keep all the loot for themselves.

    Calling Factory a commune (ha ha) not only shows that you don't know Factory, but that you prefer to engage in semantic wibbly-wobbling. Get over it.

    > Radiohead ... and still make people a living.

    Er, no - it proves nothing of the sort. Radiohead are already millionaires, so can afford to "stick it to the man" and give their music away for free.

    Thanks for advocating the economics of feudalism.

    > Factory was a wonderful thing <

    Good, we agree. So why are you so keen that it never happens again?

  33. Alan Donaly

    Hell I'll buy it

    and I am not much of a Radiohead fan but I think I will wait a bit that sites snowed under and likely to be for a while if the other bands some perhaps that I like better were to do this I would buy from them too. I think the record companies have been in the customer fucking business too long and need to not make any more sales ever. I believe this for every type of product if I can possibly live without allowing your industry to rip me off I will do so I just don't do victim well.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Childish and bitter

    Your hatred is blinding you Andrew. Your dislike of Radiohead and denigration of anyone who happens to like their music is pathetic as you try your best to rail against this positive move for people who genuinely appreciate hearing interesting and new music.

    "But it really follows the recent trend of rich popstars giving away their recorded material - while keeping more of the bounty for themselves."

    Does not compute. If you give away your recorded material, especially your very latest stuff, not some old back-catalogue greatest hits, you are by definition not keeping more of the bounty for yourself.

    "Last week's BBC documentary on Factory Records revealed the extent to which New Order underwrote ventures such as the Hacienda club for over a decade."

    This was 25 years ago. The land of milk and honey and home-taping. Broadband & MP3 are the new Factory records, or maybe you missed the memo?

    "When the rich keep more for themselves, there's less for everyone else."

    I take it you mean the rich artists, obviously ignoring the far greater percentage of the rich music business people, as that might not fit in your vitriolic hatred for Radiohead. Anyway, I fail to see how giving away an album for free is "keeping more for themselves". Your article fails to explain this.

    Andrew Orlowski: Care to name a blogger with the influence of John Peel?

    Care to name another radio DJ with the influence of John Peel?

    Finally, please put your music tastes up online so that we can take the piss and make unkind stereotypical assumptions against you and people who like the same bands.

    Musical snobbery was so sixth-form. Grow up a little when reporting otherwise interesting articles.


  35. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    @ sigh @ ... bedwetters

    Great post - thank you "anonymous". What a great parody of a the bedwetting fanbois.

    If only you didn't use an anonymous gmail account, as well as being anonymous, I'd bung a T-shirt in the post as a prize. It's ALL good, but this is my favourite line:

    > interesting and new music

    From Radiohead??

    You have me in stitches.

  36. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Transparent stunt

    > They haven't done anything interesting since Creep.

    That Pink Floyd one has some good tunes. I even like a couple on that comeback lp of theirs, the Warp Records knock-off that even die-hard fans know is shite.

    So it's only TEN years since their creativity disappeared. But they're probably wealthy enough to sit around scratching their arses for another ten years, though.

    > Tosh advertising tosh delivered in either tosh or dosh format.

    Beautifully put.

  37. lglethal Silver badge

    Very similar to another recent story

    Recently in Aus, Trent Reznor from NIN told crowds at a NIN concert to go out and download there album illegally and NOT to buy it in stores or off itunes. The reason - a long running feud with the Australian branch of NIN's record label (Universal, i think). The feud dates back a few years to when upon seeing that a NIN album sold for upwards of A$40 compared to the average A$25 for a Britney album in Australian music stores, Trent was told by the boss of Universal Music Australia that the reason is that NIN fans would pay whatever price they set. This quite rightly outraged Trent.

    By following your logic Andrew, the Britney album should have been priced at $40 and ther NIN album at $25, because obviously Britney sells a hell of a lot more then NIN... [insert sarcasm] And thus, more young bands could have been "nurtured".

    Personally i have a great deal of respect for bands choosing to go their own way. It's amazing how low you can keep the costs when your not having to pay a CEO's multi-million dollar salary...

    Oh and knowing quite a large number of people in bands of all sizes (from small to quite large) - ALL bands make the majority of their money from touring and concerts. Very, very few make any money from album sales after all the costs come out!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Childishly and bitterly not answering the questions

    Hmmm... I notice, Andrew, that you still haven't let us know who your oh so new and interesting bands are that you have on a pedestal. Funny, that. A reference to Warp records? Now we're getting somewhere, but you're still playing hard to get. Squarepusher? u-Ziq remixes of Aphex Twin singles? Let us know so we can insult them and their fans too. What's the matter, a little bit scared of music snobbery?

    I notice too, that you still haven't explained how giving away music for free is "keeping the bounty for themselves". Why avoid this question? Unless of course, you just want to insult people and you don't actually have an argument that holds water? Come on, I'd genuinely be interested in why you think this move is anything but a good idea. Your article and comments never clearly explain this. Inhale, count to 10, exhale. Calm down, pet, and try to answer the question, there's a good lad.

  39. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  40. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Childishly and bitterly not answering the questions

    > Andrew, that you still haven't let us know who your oh so new and interesting bands are that you have on a pedestal. <

    It's D*I*S*C*O all the way for me, baby.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Andrew aren't you a bit too childish?

    The fact that you don't like Radiohead's music (which is perfectly fine) doesn't stand as an argument to criticise their commercial choices.

    Write another article to comment this commercial policy then:

    --- When asked if it was wrong for consumers to make a single copy of music they've purchased, Jennifer Pariser, head of litigation for Sony BMG responded, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy.' " ----

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Comments on ‘Radiohead lets fans price new CD’

    I think this group should be applauded for this leap of faith .I am sick of people telling me where,when,how i am supposed to listen to music i purchased.In the 45 years ive been collecting music i have several yards of vinyl and cd's some of which i aquired after hearing on tape "home taping is killing the music industry"slogans and pitiful excuses for DRM.I am just a simple punter who when he hears a track he likes goes out and buyes the album with the premiss that if i get 1 track i like maybe i will get lucky and find a few more.for not much more dosh.I am not a fan off mp3s due to there poor quality sound but i will be purchasing this album even though the only track i ever liked was creep"brainwashed like i did to my father with floyd" by my daughter.Even scumb politicians know any publicity is good so why cant record companies learn this

  43. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Spectacularly missing the point

    Andy S (et al) -

    Of course fans are delighted when their favourite artists give away their songs for nothing - I'd be amazed if the reaction was anything other than ecstatic.

    But labelless artists suck money out of the system. This has consequences - you might want to start thinking about them.

    (I'd be impressed if Radiohead started their own record label / co-operative - or in some way sketched out the post-record label model. But so far, they haven't.)

    Right now, no one wants to look the gift horse in the mouth.

  44. Jock Busuttil

    Average payment?

    Musical zealotry aside, I wonder how much people will pay on average when given the choice? An uncharitable view of human nature would seem to dictate that people will pay as little as possible in this situation, so we'd expect the average to tend towards £0.01.

    However, statistical noise (no pun intended) will certainly increase the average, so how much greater than £0.01 will the average amount paid work out as? From a purely commercial point of view, this figure would be of interest to any other band or organisation thinking of adopting a similar distribution model.


  45. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Good question, Jock -

    Per-unit pricing for digital looks like a dead duck - DRM or no DRM.

    It isn't just music that faces this problem - on TV, it's only premium sports events or movies that can command a fee.

    But how much would you pay for a service, though, that permitted you to keep your acquisitions and trade songs legally with other members?

    How much per week or per month?

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Darren Ryan

    It's free, if you want it to be

    There's no minimum charge. You can put in 0.00 and it just gives you a download link - I got it today. My view is that if I like it, I'll go back and pay them for it. But I get a free trial first.


  48. Tim Akeroyd

    re: Spectacularly missing the point

    "But labelless artists suck money out of the system. This has consequences - you might want to start thinking about them."

    Ah, the system. THE SYSTEM! Is this the same system, Andrew, which so spectacularly missed the arrival of the internet? Is this the system which has been dying now for several years, yet still refuses to mend its ways?

    And you support these retardants? OK, you don't like Radiohead; that's your choice, but your bilious borborygms also have consequences Andrew - you might want to start thinking about them.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Now you have another article on Oasis, NIN, etc (which doesn't allow for comments)

    OMG Andrew you are definitely writing in the wrong place. Get hired by the NME or perhaps Melody Maker so you can spew your hate all over the place. That's what they love. You take a piece of news and you spin it in a way where there is no information conveyed, only primadonna attacks on everyone who doesn't abide by the standard rules that yuou like so much. Do I sense some hidden agenda? That would fit perfectly with the music magazine editorial style.

    And by the way: what you write is totally irrational.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Do your homework

    The 45p fee is not applied if you choose to pay 0. Now go to your other article make the necessary corrections and make it clear that you wrote something without even checking if it was true. Great journalism!

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