October 12, 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows

12 days ago, Radiohead shocked a lot of the music blogging community by putting up a short announcement on their website:

Hello everyone.
Well, the new album is finished, and it's coming out in 10 days;
We've called it In Rainbows.
Love from us all.

The other shocking thing was the means in which they released it - online, ahead of the physical album (which isn't so much of a shock), but fans could choose whatever price they wanted for the downloads. You could pay nothing, if you wanted, or you could pay whatever amount you felt was proper. Apparently, there's a lot of talk about how this is going to revolutionize the music industry. I don't think that will really have any huge changes in the way that music is distributed, because this seems to be to be a bit of a publicity stunt on the part of the band, and one that's certainly gotten them a lot of attention. To start, Radiohead is one of those artists that has a lot of fans out there already. This is something that can probably work with a group that's already hugely established and with a good fan following.
The other thing is that this isn't something that's commercially viable. There's no set amount, and therefore potentially a disaster. While loyal fans would contribute money towards this album, how about the demographic of people who are somewhat indifferent or haven't really listened to Radiohead? I know I didn't kick in any money - This is the first Radiohead album that I've listened to beginning to end, and while it's not bad, it's not mindblowing. I would feel compelled to kick in money if this was something from one of my favorite bands. In any event, I'm sure that we'll probably see a couple of copies of this sort of thing, a flexible distribution, but I can't see it happening on a huge scale, not when the RIAA sues people left and right over illegal downloads and when corperations need to make money.
The album isn't bad. I can't say that it's going to make me a huge fan of the band, but it's listenable, and a somewhat solid album. However, there really aren't any songs that really stick out for me, they all sort of blend in together in a nice mix.

In Rainbows - Radiohead

Hype - Download/Buy - Look