Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I mentioned my uncertainty about how much I would pay for the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows. Well, when I got to the digital checkout line, I felt like I was haggling in an Armenian bazaar. I was overwhelmed, both digitally and elsewise. So I digitally yelled out £8, which means I voluntarily and digitally paid approximately $15 for the album, which is more than I would digitally pay on iTunes. Am I digitally rewarding the band for years of service? Am I rewarding the band for this new digital path? Draw your own conclusions about this. And when you do, share them with me, please. Digitally.

I have only just started to listen to it. I will have a full report in a few days.


At 9:51 PM, Blogger Josh posited...

i have conflicting feelings about this.

on one hand, i think that radiohead needs to be rewarded for their decision to put this out outside of major labels. but more importantly, i think that big electronic sales of this will show people that there are alternate ways of making music.

conversely, i think that this is not such a daring leap for radiohead. thom and co. do not have to worry about making money, and it is kind of a backhanded gesture to make it free now. certainly it won't hurt them, and there will be many people such as yourself that believe in the old model of $x for y album. i think that like nine inch nails, who are kind of going through the same thing, radiohead is a band whose major statements were earlier in their career. and i can't help but think, just a little, that they are attempting to ride the wave as the world's greatest band just a little bit longer even though they aren't making the world's greatest music. obviously there are many, many radiohead fans who will disagree with me, but you can't deny that this band's best years were a decade in the past. all things considered, i think it is a positive step that less "established" musicians should emulate.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger JB posited...

Well, how does this compare to what you did with the Stars album that was officially "leaked?" You bought that album presumably because a) you like the band, and b) you like the content delivery system. Would you have paid extra $ for the Stars album? If not, I believe you paid extra because its Radiohead moreso than the fact that you could name your price.

Josh: what are you talking about, dude? If you have a blog where you flesh this stuff out, please let me know so I can read it. I'm having a hard time following your logic on all points.

Also, to say that Radiohead's best years were more than a decade ago (and furthermore, not up for debate!) is pretty bold. I don't even think the Pitchfork hipsters would be so ignorant in between whining about the album's bitrate. Who made you the arbiter of cool?

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Josh posited...

i'm not the arbiter of cool. it is pretty much universally accepted that ok computer is radiohead's best work and one of the seminal albums of the 20th century. recent albums have garnered nowhere near as much critical/fan acclaim. it is far bolder to claim that radiohead will make music that will surpass the bends, ok computer and kid a. bands, like all kinds of artists, are parabolas, and they have great periods and periods of decline. obviously there are exceptions to this, but it is a near-universal truth.

anyway, i will try to clarify this some more but i am not sure if i can. radiohead is simply acknowledging the truth of how people consume music. some people in this world prefer to pay for music. some people prefer to get it for free. some people prefer it digitally, and some people, bless them, still prefer the vinyl format. radiohead is catering to all genres of these people. if somebody is savvy enough to pay for a digital download on in rainbows, then they are certainly have enough technical proficience to download it for free on a p2p client. it really makes no difference to their bottom line to offer it this way, and i am resenting (in advance) the acclaim radiohead will get for doing this when they are really putting nothing on the line. many, many more people will buy the cd when it is released than will digitally download it, and many people will pay the $80 for the discbox. and while the whole thing raises really interesting questions about music's conversion from a commodity to a service and about guilt and conscience and worth and music, etc, i think that the bottom line is this doesn't really mean anything for the music industry.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger JB posited...

I guess we have different ideas about what might constitute a "near-universal truth." Fair enough.

I don't know, man, I pretty much disagree with you on every single point. I think this is a pretty significant event in the history of recorded music, and I don't see Radiohead as being even close to a state of decline.

I'm curious about what other people think, though. JDub?

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Josh posited...

for people who may have an interest in this subject:

While this may seem like remarkable news for some, it should be noted that these are major acts with significant clout. While they may be able to eschew the label system, in all cases they've reached the plateau they've reached because of major label promotion which has supported them for more than a decade. Put it simply, these bands are already grown up, so the real question, particularly on this site, is whether a new band can grow without a label and the hype/promotion machine that brings. "


from the NYT freakonomics blog:

At 6:23 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

I also believe it is a significant event in recording history.

Josh, one major point that I need to address is the idea of "daring" that you bring up. As far as I know, no one has ever claimed that radio is being daring with this move. I have never thought so. But pioneering and daring are not the same thing, and I truly do not think anyone can claim that this is not pioneering.

At 6:25 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

JB, as far as the Stars thing: I suppose you are right, but with that album I was not able to choose my price. So with Radiohead, I may have been rewarding both the choice and the band.

At 6:25 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

And meanwhile, I love the album.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Josh posited...

mr w.: i agree that nobody on this blog has said that radiohead is being daring. i'm just trying to preempt anybody who might try and say that.

At 10:39 PM, Blogger JB posited...


I'm really happy to hear you love the album. I'm floored, myself.

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Kid C posited...

Radiohead's BEST years (Bends-Kid A) might be behind them, but they're still making better music than almost any act out there. Don't compare them to Trent Reznor, who hasn't been relevant in years.

Year Zero (dud) <<<<<<<<<< In Rainbows (easily in my year-end top five).


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