Radiohead Shocks Record Industry With Free Download of New Album

Tells fans that they can pay as much or as little as they want for the band’s new album “In Rainbows.

Newly freed from the shackles of a recording industry contract, the famed UK band Radiohead has decided to buck the system and offer its new album “In Rainbows” directly to fans at whatever price they feel like paying. It’s now shaping up for the revolution to be televised after all.

The album will be available for download directly from its website beginning October 10th, and fans can choose to pay as little as 45 pence, about $1 USD, the credit card handling fees.

It’s their first release since 2003’s “Hail to the Thief,” the last album required under its recording contract with the EMI/Capitol records label.

On its surface it may not sound like too big of a deal, I mean offering an album directly to consumers for download isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but when you stop to consider that Radiohead is a big name talent with tons of album sales, fans, and music awards under their belt it really gives moment for pause and makes you realize that this is indeed a revolutionary development in the music industry.

It’s the first time that a band with such a fanbase and lucrative capacity for CD sales has decided to embrace the future of music distribution and sidestep the traditional music industry altogether. It’s an event that is certain to cause panic in record label boardrooms everywhere and cause a further dent in already slumping CD sales.

Despite the fact that fans can opt to pay essentially nothing, its more than likely that they will choose to pay something of meaning and reward the band for this bold endeavor since all profits go directly to Radiohead and not into the pockets of out of touch record labels. Plus fans will most likely choose to download it directly from the band’s site instead of on P2P and file-sharing networks because they will be able to get it faster and at a guaranteed quality bitrate encoding. It suddenly makes piracy look irrelevant.

Also, what’s interesting to point out is that an artist only makes about $1 USD per each $16.98 USD retail album he sells right now anyways, and I’m certain many will opt to pay at least this much if not more. For all intents and purposes it’s actually possible that they will make more money selling “In Rainbows” directly to consumers than they would have otherwise. It’s hard to fathom that the record industry makes a big stink about how piracy leads to “starving artists” when it gives a measly dollar to them while it consumes the other sixteen.

The move may also cause a further shakeup of the music industry because other big artists may now demand better contract deals under threat of leaving and distributing music themselves as Radiohead.has done. Being that the music industry offers little incentives for signing other than upfront cash to struggling bands and marketing assistance, its days of necessity are almost over. Both mean nothing to the more established artists and are increasingly possible to overcome even for new and lesser known talent.

The bottom line here is that Radiohead may have finally shown the world once and for all that bypassing record labels is actually possible. It used to be that the artists needed them, for who else was able to manufacture, distribute, market, stock, and sell your CDs. But, now it’s the other way around. The music industry is now content-centric, meaning that all you need now is quality music, a PC, and an internet connection. Record labels don’t really have that much to offer music artists anymore, and it’s this fact that makes their profit grabs all the more distasteful.

I urge you to show your support for TRUE ARTISTS and make record labels sit up and take notice by buying a copy of Radiohead’s new album “In Rainbows” on October 10th. Join the revolution.

The whole affair is discussed in more detail in this Reuter’s video below.