We've now had a few days to absorb the latest album from Radiohead, In Rainbows. As the early gushing reviews have tapered off, the focus seems to have shifted over to the fact that, GASP, they might have made a few bucks. While at first the press seemed to applaud the band's decision to not only release the album on their own, but also offering the ability to name your own price for it as well. So, if somebody wants it for free, they can get it for free.
Certain publications claim that Thom Yorke and his fellow bandmates are laughing all the way to the bank, but exactly when did it become a bad thing for artists to make money off their music? Gigwise claims that the band may have sold a whopping 1.2 million copies, which if the average fan paid Â£4, Radiohead could have netted an impressive Â£4.8.
One of the more amusing spins that I have read this week was on an AFP story posted on Yahoo, which featured a quote from none other than douchetastic James Blunt. He offered a quote to The Times, where he stated: "I don't think they should devalue it. I've got to pay a band and a producer and a mixer. I don't know how I'd necessarily pay them if I sold my albums for 1p." Well amigo, if you sold your albums for a buck a pop, and raked in one million in album sales, I think you'd be okay.
I applaud Radiohead for taking the music industry by the balls and shaking things up a bit. Offering an album for practically free shouldn't be that much of a stretch, as those who opted to download the album for nada from the band's site would have just done so from a file sharing network anyways. People will always have a way to get music for free. At least with this particular way of releasing an album, you give people an option. Some people would not spend $20 at their local retail outlet on an album, so they'd just download the tracks illegally. But, when they could just spend a measly few bucks, they're more likely to pay a bit for the tunes. So which would you rather have, $0 or $5.
The music industry and those that surround it, such as radio, have been fucking bands over for far too long. The greed at so many major (as well as some indie) labels has gotten out of hand, and Radiohead has now shown that the relevance of the old school methods of releasing albums has diminished greatly. Some artists may choose to stay with their trusty record labels, which is totally fine, but hopefully this experiment has opened the eyes of a few showing that things can be done differently.
Of course Radiohead was going to make money off this album. Isn't that a part of the point of releasing music? At least this time round, you weren't forced to pay an outrageous amount of cash to pick up a copy. One of the best parts of this whole deal has been their ability to recapture that social feeling of everybody getting the album at the same time. It has been quite a while since I've been this excited about picking up a record, giving it a listen, knowing that people around the planet were getting their first listens as well. They brought back that feeling of community, like we used to when gathering at our local record stores at midnight to pick up an anticipated new release. Radiohead defeated the almighty record leak, and even made a few pennies doing so.
I tip my cap to Thom, Jonny, Ed, Colin and Phil. They're always one step ahead, embracing technology while never abandoning the quality of their art.