Who’s fitter, happier, more productive now?
Next week, British rock group Radiohead will release its new album, In Rainbows.
And so far, the group has said on the album’s Web
site that it will be available only through download from Radiohead.com.
And if that’s not enough to cause a stir in the music industry, users can download the album without paying a cent. Actually, In Rainbows is available for whatever price a user wishes to pay — including nothing.
“It’s up to you,” the site reads. “No really, it’s up to you.”
Spokespeople for the band were not able to be reached by press time.
When it debuts Oct. 10, In Rainbows will become Radiohead’s first album since it released Hail to the Thief in 2003. Hail to the Thief was also the last of six albums that Radiohead recorded under contract with record label EMI.
That contract has not been renewed, EMI spokeswoman Jeanne Meyer told InternetNews.com, but added that EMI remains in contact with Radiohead and hopes to work with them in the future.
“They’ve always looked to experiment,” Meyer said.
Radiohead is not the first band to publish a free album. Earlier this year, Prince released his album 3121 free for download before putting on 21 sold-out concerts in London.
Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, has yet to release a free album, but he has told concertgoers to steal his album instead of paying what he characterizes as “greedy” record labels for it.
Radiohead and Reznor’s moves are more evidence of an industry in transition, as large music labels and retailers struggle to leverage the Web while avoiding putting sales in jeopardy. During the summer, Apple announced it had sold over 3 billion songs through its iTunes store, charging $.99 per song. On Sept. 25, online retailer Amazon opened an MP3 music store featuring what the company characteristically called “Earth’s biggest selection” — over 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists, represented by over 20,000 major and independent labels.
Both online vendors and others have also begun selling music without digital rights management software (DRM) encoded into it, despite pleas from the record labels that such a move would encourage piracy.