Record Companies finally woken up by Radiohead

Remember 2001, when it was decided that the record industry was going to be brought to its knees by peer to peer sharing? Remember yesterday, when last time we checked, there was still a thriving record industry? But it seems that there is going to be a casualty of all this music/internet/democracy malarky, but don't worry. It's going to be those megalithic-like record companies. And who's to blame? Thom Yorke.

Radiohead has made their latest album, In Rainbows, available for download without the support of a record company. The twist? They're inviting people to pay exactly what they want for it. So, you could bag a copy of their new release for as little as 1p, or you could offer to pay the going rate for an album. You could even pay £40 for a special edition box set, complete with artwork, additional songs and vinyl copies. So far, people appear to be using this 'honesty box' system, well, honestly.

The bands spokesperson has said that "so far most people are giving the amount they would pay for a regular CD [at retail price]." Wow. So we can really be trusted. It seems Nine Inch Nails think so, since they've just followed Radiohead and announced that they've left their record company and will pursue "a direct relationship with the audience as I [Trent Reznor] see fit and appropriate".

Does this spell the end of record companies dictating to both the artists and the public?

The boss of EMI had a confidential email leaked this week (don't worry, happens to the best of us) which had him telling his staff that they needed to wake up, or risk losing other big artists to this new 'straight to the fans' business model. He suggested that rather than relying on CD sales, the industry should look at downloading and the internet as a creative opportunity. About bloody time, we say.

Music: In Rainbows - Radiohead @ their online store
View: Full Article @ Shiny Shiny

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30 Comments

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I agree qith the quality of the encoded files available for download...artists have to be aware that many (not all) of audio listeners have become more quality-aware than just going to buy anything that a group releases.

if only they have the lossless formats or at least high quality VBR.

nonetheless, this approach of paying what you want is wonderful. it was about time that artists begin to dump record labels. this will lead to a drop on prices, wich in most countries the price for retail cd's are hilariously high.

Which is what will kill this. There are too many greedy people in the world to rely on them to set their own price. Everyone will just take them for nothing.

I just don't believe some of the reactions here, what is wrong with you people. Radiohead has done something truly great by setting an example to the record companies which benefits the consumers and all you do is moan about the quality of the songs! I mean I also don’t like mediocre or low quality compressed music but you can choose as little as nothing to get them. Honestly.

Personally I bought the download for a £10. The Box set is a bit too much for me.

MaX Velocity said,
I just don't believe some of the reactions here, what is wrong with you people. Radiohead has done something truly great by setting an example to the record companies which benefits the consumers and all you do is moan about the quality of the songs! I mean I also don’t like mediocre or low quality compressed music but you can choose as little as nothing to get them. Honestly.

Personally I bought the download for a £10. The Box set is a bit too much for me.

thats great, you paid what you think low quality audio is worth.

if you went to your local cinema to see a film and there was a poster saying "pay what you want to see the film", so, you paid nearly the equivalent price of a standard cinema ticket, sat down with popcorn etc then a blurred,pixelated low quality version of the film was played, would you feel cheated or would you turn to your fellow viewers and ask "I just don't believe some of the reactions here, what is wrong with you people." ...hmmmm

don't get me wrong, i think the idea in principle is great. I want to see the fall of the record industry robbery machine as much as the next person... it's just that this whole thing is misleading if you want more than sub-standard quality audio.

ZombieFly said,
it's just that this whole thing is misleading if you want more than sub-standard quality audio.

I agree.. It's a great concept, but why do it half-ass? Just give people high-quality music (the way it's meant to be heard) AND let them pay what they want for it. Everyone's happy.

Jeussss, a big band breaks away from the record companies and gives consumers an option and many still want to winge, winge and winge, some arn't happy until the get CD quality, cover art and free tickets for just a penny

evo_spook said,
Jeussss, a big band breaks away from the record companies and gives consumers an option and many still want to winge, winge and winge, some arn't happy until the get CD quality, cover art and free tickets for just a penny

erm, did you read my post? i said i was willing to pay the same amount as the cd costs for cd quality music.

The album is released as 10, 160kbps MP3 files. Personally as I'm a huge Radiohead fan I grabbed the discbox set and after listening to the album from my download link, I think it's well worth it.

Radiohead have taken a new step in both their musical direction and in marketing/sale of their music. Kudos to them. *goes back to listening to it*

ninjakarl said,
The album is released as 10, 160kbps MP3 files.


FFS!. useless. so people have paid £10 or more for lower than cd quality music?

ZombieFly said,


FFS!. useless. so people have paid £10 or more for lower than cd quality music?

Well, they paid what they liked for it. Be it £10 or 10p.

I have paid for the box set which includes the disks, download, and collector stuff. Can't wait.

ninjakarl said,
160kbps MP3 files

Thats a deal breaker right there (i wouldn't pay anything for that, thats like sampler quality).., maybe its fine for casual on-the-go listening, not for archiving or for playback on a highend system.

I will not pay for compressed music formats.... should be released as FLAC (which i would pay for). . that way i get the music, uncompressed, in its true form .. . (let me choose to re-encode, and downgrade the quality after .. if i wanted)

paying for low quality compressed media right of the bat is just dumb . .

ZombieFly said,


FFS!. useless. so people have paid £10 or more for lower than cd quality music?

Basically, yes, if that's how much they chose to pay. For just the DRM free MP3s I would have paid about 12 AUD which is what I recently paid for an EP to "support" one of my favourite local bands Institut Polaire.
It's a new model, I didn't expected them to get it perfect, I was hoping for atleast 256kbps MP3 but them's the breaks and I'll have it on CD/Vinyl in December regardless.

ninjakarl said,

Basically, yes, if that's how much they chose to pay. For just the DRM free MP3s I would have paid about 12 AUD which is what I recently paid for an EP to "support" one of my favourite local bands Institut Polaire.
It's a new model, I didn't expected them to get it perfect, I was hoping for atleast 256kbps MP3 but them's the breaks and I'll have it on CD/Vinyl in December regardless.

i've mailed my complaint to the only email address i can find which is inrainbows@waste.uk.com. Nowhere does it say on the site you are paying for lower than FM radio quality files. This is very misleading as the media have reported this as the digital version which indicates it's the equivalent of the record company pushed CD;which it replaces. This is blatantly not the case.

let me go to my local store and buy the cd, oh wait, i can't can i... my only option is to order a £40 collectors edition stuffed with things i don't need.

Nor do i want to pay anything towards this as then my purchase will count towards the official stats.... guess i'll have to download it from usenet!? but i'd buy the CD! i have the money in my hand ...FUBAR

ZombieFly said,
i've mailed my complaint to the only email address i can find which is inrainbows@waste.uk.com

let me go to my local store and buy the cd, oh wait, i can't can i... my only option is to order a £40 collectors edition stuffed with things i don't need.

FUBAR

Hardly FUBAR, you'll be able to buy the CD by itself in January next year.

ninjakarl said,

Hardly FUBAR, you'll be able to buy the CD by itself in January next year.

true enough. but it's currently october of the year before :nuts: , i don't see why i should wait if i'm willing to pay now.
my point is that this is a misleading stunt to get attention. People are being duped into purchasing low quality encoding for what they perceive as "the digital version of the cd". Nowhere on the site does it say the audio is less than cd quality.

ZombieFly said,
true enough. but it's currently october of the year before :nuts: , i don't see why i should wait if i'm willing to pay now.
my point is that this is a misleading stunt to get attention. People are being duped into purchasing low quality encoding for what they perceive as "the digital version of the cd". Nowhere on the site does it say the audio is less than cd quality.

I see where you're coming from and they should have said the quality of the MP3s. Ah well, it's something for other bands to learn from and a big lesson to the record labels.

I'm sure they wouldn't mind you downloading it at a higher bit rate when it's "available" and paying what you think it's worth.

I don't understand what the problem is. Only you audiophiles that listen for the kind of stuff and have high-end systems can tell the difference between 160kbps and lossless. You're also in the vast, vast minority of people. Most people in the market could care less so long as it sounds good, which at 160, it does.

-Spenser

stifler6478 said,
I don't understand what the problem is. Only you audiophiles that listen for the kind of stuff and have high-end systems can tell the difference between 160kbps and lossless.
-Spenser

anyone that cant tell the difference between 160kbps and lossless needs to have their hearing checked.
you've just described "the problem".

ZombieFly said,
i don't see why i should wait if i'm willing to pay now.

Hmm...I'm willing to pay for Spore right now. I've got the money, why can't I have it? Hell, Mass Effect has gone gold, meaning it's completed and ready to play! Why can't I have it?!

Companies set release dates for a reason. Everyone else has to wait, and it's your choice if you don't want what's being offered to you and would rather wait for a higher quality release. The Orange Box? It came out on Steam first, meaning if you wanted it on DVD you'd have to wait! It happens all of the time, and nobody's forcing you to buy anything.

this model works generally, however, it needs further work to become viable for standard "chart" music.

It works for radiohead because of the fanbase, pure and simple. Most of them are aged 25+, therefore they grew up with physical media and hold different values when it comes to obtaining music. It's these fans that will have purchased the new album online for a "decent" price. Not all artists can rely on word of mouth marketing, especially not new acts, who wouldn't get the required exposure if they took the same route as radiohead. Younger generations have grown up seeing music as something you can obtain for free and swap between devices, the need to "own" the physical media is gone and at a guess i bet hardly any kids today take a trip into town to browse the racks at the local HMV, probably preferring Itunes to simply load their devices directly with select tracks from select albums/artists.

Over time i think this pick & mix "disposable music" mentality will grow and grow, with mainstream chart acts served by electronic outlets (iTunes etc). As this generation gets older, i seriously doubt they will require the physical media just for the sake of owning it as us oldies do now; the question then is..... why do you need a record company at all? all an artist needs then is an agent who can handle media hype/appearances, the marketing etc can be done via portal sites which will spring up [or existing sites such as lastfm will diversify slightly] and allow a community based review system of all these "direct to audience" artists to market their products.

personally i'll pay £10 for radiohead, providing it's available in lossless format, i find paying for 128/192 bitrate files totally unacceptable, it's like buying a TV with an out of focus screen.

Though we have no way of validating the information given by the band's spokesman. He's not really going to say something along the lines of "How stupid are we? We thought people would be honest, but instead they've done as people generally do -- take advantage and paid next to nothing." now is he?

great news indeed.
just like NIN, Radiohead's system is just a good leap in the right direction:d, maybe some other bands will keep doing stuff like this...and the record companies will stop the rip off

I think its a step in the right direction. But they need work on it.

If i buy an album, i've proberly only hear 1 or 2 songs on the radio or a tv advert etc..

Im not prepared to spend £10 to find out what its like. You should be able to get a heavily DRM'd music (maybe to a few listens etc) then i can buy, for what i WANT to pay, the unlocker for this album. I can either buy a DRM free licence for more or pay a little less and get a lighter DRM'd album.

illmonkey said,
I think its a step in the right direction. But they need work on it.

If i buy an album, i've proberly only hear 1 or 2 songs on the radio or a tv advert etc..

Im not prepared to spend £10 to find out what its like. You should be able to get a heavily DRM'd music (maybe to a few listens etc) then i can buy, for what i WANT to pay, the unlocker for this album. I can either buy a DRM free licence for more or pay a little less and get a lighter DRM'd album.

Practically every band has a myspace account with samples...

navinjohnson said,

Practically every band has a myspace account with samples...

So then i need to use a crappy myspace page to download/stream low quality rubbish. To then have to use bandwidth again to download it from a good site like itunes? In the UK we have limited bandwidth...

It should be made easy, not hard.

illmonkey said,
So then i need to use a crappy myspace page to download/stream low quality rubbish. To then have to use bandwidth again to download it from a good site like itunes? In the UK we have limited bandwidth...

It should be made easy, not hard.

Since you are riding the Complainin' Train, maybe an alternative or two would be welcome...

How about waiting until you hear the songs on the radio. Or borrow the CD from a friend. Or have him loan yo uhis MP3 player to listen to the songs. I am sure that there are more options, too, so you can listen to "high quality" without having to go to myspace.