Frontman Thom Yorke calls it a “one-off response to a particular situation.”
Six months after Radiohead shocked the music industry by letting fans decide how much to pay for their album “In Rainbows” the plan has become fairly accepted as a practical means of connecting with fans while still making money and better still – music on one’s own terms.
Yesterday, Coldplay even got into the act by announcing that it was offering a free digital download of their new single “Violet Hill,” though is still oddly reverting to a paid purchase after a week’s time. Thus far it’s reported to have been downloaded some 600,000 times.
“What we’re seeing is the emergence of a new business model for established, superstar acts,” music guru Alan Cross said Tuesday of Coldplay’s heavily hyped return to the spotlight.
“They realize that they have, already, over years, built up a very tight relationship with their audiences and that they have the power and the infrastructure to reach out to them directly.”
It was almost two months ago now that NIN, one of the biggest proponents of file-sharing, uploaded Vol 1 of Ghosts I-IV to The Pirate Bay for BitTorrent users to download for free.
Even Metallica, long considered the most vocal critic of file-sharing, said it was considering using the medium as well. “We’ve been observing Radiohead and Trent Reznor and in twenty-seven years or however long it takes for the next record, we’ll be looking forward to everything in terms of possibilities with the Internet,” it said in an interview.
So just when you though that a new era of music distribution may be in the works Radiohead, the pioneer of sorts, now says it won’t be repeating its previous initiative that let fans decide what to pay to download their album. Thom Yorke, the English rock band’s frontman, now says in a recent interview that “I think it was a one-off response to a particular situation.”
“Yes. It was a one-off in terms of a story. 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,” Yorke told the Hollywood Reporter.
I’m not sure how it will play out with fans of the band, but it does imply that the experiment wasn’t as profitable as they would’ve liked for it to have been. Why else would they decide that it was a “one-off response” if it gave the band artistic freedom, a direct connection with fans, AND money to boot!
I don’t think Radiohead plans to diverge from the sort of direct connection that digital distribution has given them for Yorke continues in the interview by stressing its importance. “We are about that direct relationship (now) because we are big enough to establish that,” he said.
That said, it may just be that it really came down to a matter of dollars and cents, or pounds and shillings in this case.