It’s what we’ve been waiting for: a major band with an anticipated album to step up and completely bypass the entire major label mechanism and self-release their next record.
And that’s not even the best part: the best part is if you want it as a purely digital release, you can pay whatever you want for it.
In a sense, Radiohead is playing for tips.
You’ve got two choices: the Download, 10 new songs, which you can download next week. Or the Discbox, which includes the Download, but also two CDs, two vinyl albums and artwork. This costs about $80 dollars, since the dollar is weak weak weak right now. And it doesn’t come out until the first week of December.
I think that the catch here is that while the Discbox includes the Download, there are still 8 more songs that aren’t going to be released in any form until the first week of December.
Radiohead isn’t the first band to do this, of course, but they are easily — sorry, Prince — the biggest band to try this, and there are whole bunch of questions surrounding the whole project:
- Without the classic promotional structure in place, will there be a huge demand for the album after the first week?
- Is the demand going to break whatever they’ve put into place to handle it?
- Will it get played on the major Alternative radio stations?
- Will they get it onto eMusic or Amazon’s download or even iTunes?
- Will this take down the record industry?
- Is the record any good?
As a Radiohead fan, this last question is actually the most important to me. I’ve neither sought out nor come across the bootlegs of their new material, so it will all be new to me. And I’m totally looking forward to it, just from the geekboy fan level.
Meanwhile, if I had to take stabs at the other questions, I doubt that this will be the straw that kills the major labels; or that it will get much radio play without the usual promotional grease. And I’m guessing that everybody who is interested in this will find out about it. I would also hazard a guess that in a few months or even weeks, it will end up on eMusic or Amazon.
BTW, I that that I’m going to pay $10-15 for the Download; and wait until somebody else rips and posts the Discbox on Usenet. This way, I’ll actually get two Radiohead records spaced out over two months — kinda like Kid A & Amnesiac, only more compressed. I’ll probably also eventually purchase a regular-priced CD if they get somebody to put it out next year.
No matter what happens from all of this, it’s a pretty amazing experiment from a pretty amazing band. Let’s us hope that others follow.