Top-selling British rock band Radiohead said its new album, In Rainbows, will initially be available exclusively on the band’s Web site, with fans choosing the price they are willing to pay.
The plan, announced on Radiohead’s Web site last night, appears set to challenge numerous aspects of established music-industry business models.
Radiohead hasn’t made its music available for sale on iTunes, apparently because the band wants to sell only full albums and not let users pick and choose songs.
Radiohead’s Web site didn’t explicitly say that no record company is involved in the process, but a person familiar with the situation said the process of creating, manufacturing and selling the album was being done without any record label’s involvement.
In Rainbows will be available on Oct. 10th from Radiohead.com. Pre-orders are being taken now.
[UPDATE 10.11.07] I offered Radiohead three pounds, or about six American dollars for the album. Yes, it’s less than the standard fare, but I’ve never purchased an album from Radiohead before. So they earned a new customer, and I’m willing to bet I’m one of many. I have a feeling this “name your price” approach is going to make them a ton of cash. Hopefully, Radiohead will release the sales figures for all to see at some point.
[UPDATE 10.16.07] According to USA Today, some Radiohead fans are pissed about the sound quality offered on these tracks. Tracks are encoded at a bit rate of 160 kbps, lower than Radiohead’s earlier albums but higher than a standard iTunes track download. Roger Wade, 42, of Portland, Ore., who has not ordered the download, is still unhappy with the band on both counts. “This honor-system gimmick has turned out to be sloppy at best and dishonest and devious at worst. It’s common knowledge that 192 kbps is the accepted minimum bit rate among nearly everyone who even knows what a bit rate is.” Uh, what’s a bit rate?