Radiohead: Pay what (and if) you want

When the best band in the world decides to release its next album through only one website,, at once for the entire world (no promo copies to radio stations, websites, music magazines) and without any relation at all with any major record company, you stop. And think.

InRainbowsSure, the industry is changing, but… More importantly; it’s already changed.

I was talking about this with my boss last Friday. I was defending people (other people, not me) who download music online for free – I was explaining how I thought that the music could perhaps be viewed as a way to promote the live performances and other band-related things… From his view point, paying for your music is the right thing to do. He’s right. Right?

But the fascinating thing, and therefore the thing that matters within the confines of this blog, is the effect that this decision has on Radiohead fans… Like me. I went to the website to pre-order the (I almost typed “the CD”, a sign that I’m getting old) music. I went already thinking “I’ll pay $1” (ended up paying almost $2, as you’ll see below).


When I got there, I think just to find out if you really could pay zero and still “purchase” the songs, like, legally, I went for it with a zero.

And… Yes. You really can pay zero. It just feels really wrong. And that’s a powerful thing Radiohead tapped into. I always thought there were many things genius about them. That’s a band that has inspired many of us, for years, when it comes to music. They have now inspired a bunch of us in marketing practices.

This is a great posting on about the record industry’s reaction, including an fun-to-read portion of a Time article on the subject.


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