It was a pivotal moment for the music industry that many thought sounded the death knell for recorded music sales, but Radiohead won’t be repeating its initiative to let fans pay what they want for their downloads, the English rock band’s frontman said Tuesday.
“I think it was a one-off response to a particular situation,” Thom Yorke said of the band’s decision last October to let viewers pay what they wanted for digital downloads of the new album “In Rainbows.”
“Yes. It was a one-off in terms of a story,” Yorke told the Hollywood Reporter. “It was one of those things where we were in the position of everyone asking us what we were going to do. I don’t think it would have the same significance now anyway, if we chose to give something away again. It was a moment in time.”
Radiohead’s decision to allow fans to pay into the online equivalent of an honesty box for the album came shortly after it walked away from troubled record label EMI, sparking acres of comment about the future direction of the music industry and the dwindling revenue pot from CD sales.
The band has remained quiet about whether the experiment was a success, with many fans thought to have downloaded the album without paying anything at all. “In Rainbows” was later released conventionally as a CD, and topped the U.S. and U.K. charts.
The groundbreaking move towards potentially free music has been adopted by a number of artists including Prince and Nine Inch Nails. Most recently fellow English rockers Coldplay said Monday that they would give away its new single “Violet Hill” free of charge, resulting in the group’s Web site crashing the next day due to demand.