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Radiohead's New Album





kuyman
Well, it's called In Rainbows, has ten songs, is their seventh studio album, and comes out on the tenth of October. We also know that you can name your own price (not sure how that's going to work out, but it's great PR). They're also going completely without a label, something virtually unheard of anywhere. Beyond that, it's really anyone's guess.

Please feel free to post your guesses or anything else you'd like to post here.

Radiohead rocks and I hope this album is better than Hail to the Thief.
a.Bird
This is the first I've heard about this and I'm personally very torn. I want to imagine that Radiohead would not have even the most minute capacity to disappoint me, but I really can't imagine them topping everything they have already done. But maybe their music will be even more genius than before, maybe they haven't reached their full capacity of greatness and like all true artists, will continue to draw their inspiration directly from the core of their souls and not from all the media hype bullshit around them. Thanks for the heads up!
AftershockVibe
I'm imagine that an awful lot of executives in the music distribution industry are having to reach for the toilet roll about now. If Radiohead can pull off DRM-free, pay-as-you-like music over the internet then people are going to realise that the copying of CDs is now essentially free after music production costs are met. More importantly, artists are going to realise as well.

Album art is nice and coloured cases are nice but for the vast majority of music they're well... useless crap. It so happens that Radiohead's cover art is actually something I like but hey, if this takes off then the next step is that you can always run off your own printed CD and case cover on an inkjet!

The large labels are going to have to move quickly before someone beats them to it, or (even worse from their point of view) artists start doing it themselves.


I also have high hopes for the new album which means it can also be a disappointment without needing to try too much. I didn't really think much of Thom Yorke's solo "Eraser" album.


Edit: Oh, and it's a bit of an overstatement to say that publishing without a label never happens. It happens quite a lot. What usually happens is that bands who get as large as Radiohead simply start their own label with recording studios and push their particular genre.
deStructuralized
Bad pricing and distribution strategy. At least from a theoretical standpoint.

First off, the album is being produced as a public good, and will create profit problems as such. Anytime you allow consumers to set their own prices on a non-scarce good, you get a "free rider" effect. This isn't like an eBay auction, where scarcity and competition encourage consumers to pay higher prices. This is the exact opposite. Digital music is infinitely duplicable, and most data are immortalized the moment they hit the world wide web. People will have no incentive to pay a "competitive" price.

Even if consumers feel it's the right thing to do, they're not going to put forth a lot of money. Reason: $10 is a "drop in the bucket" when it comes to Radiohead's music production, and fans know that. If they didn't, now they do.

More importantly, pricing is a firm's responsibility. It's inconvenient enough to have to submit your personal information just to make an e-purchase. Forcing a consumer to decide on an "ethical" price creates additional burdens in the form of time and energy cost, and decreases a product's perceived value. The end result: the consumer either pays a lower price because the product has been devalued, or he forgoes the inconvenience altogether by not paying.

Reasons this might be a good thing--
1. Radiohead might not care. They just want to make music.
2. If the purpose is to get as many people listening to the music as possible so as to sell more tour tickets, then this might be a good promotional move. In this case, the band's getting people to pay for an advertisement, and not a product. Which...might be genius.

Million dollar questions: what's Radiohead's intent with all of this, and given all of the above factors, was this the most profitable move to make? We'll just have to see. Until then, the industry has no reason to panic. My guess is, this will simply prove that musicians who are rich & famous can reach their audiences without worrying about the bottom line.
kuyman
This album is a huge slap in the faces of the RIAA and its world equivalents, even if it does bomb commercially. Radiohead is one of the biggest and most popular bands in the world, thus them saying they don't want any part of the RIAA/Recording Industry is a huge deal. Seconly, they're not getting rid of anything at all, they're just adding digital downloads for a name your own price. They will still offer a box set of the album, a vinyl, a hardcover book, and more junk I've surely forgotten. Later they'll just put out a CD, I'm sure. But the only thing that they're doing is giving away the digital downloads, something that effectively happens with every artist through piracy. By giving the songs away (in a nutshell) without a label, they are avoiding the entire backbone behind record release; any profit they make will be there's and none of it will go to the labels.

This is a brilliant move.
deStructuralized
Actually, if it bombs commercially then it's nothing like a slap to the face of the record industry. It's more like a teenager running away from home only to fail to find a job and end up homeless. You sure showed your parents, kid.

Secondly, if they're still producing music as a physical product then that makes even less sense, because they're dealing with the same manufacturing costs while their distribution method encourages lower revenue.

The people who go for this are going to be the ones who (1) already download without paying, (2) download while paying (a little bit of money), and (3) buy a CD (for more money). What I'm saying is that from an economic standpoint, this will probably push people in those latter categories towards the first, driving down overall profit. If they wanted to go purely digital, they could've used a non-DRM digital retailer like Snocap, which would increase the % of profit going to them while retaining a stable pricing system.

Like I said, I could be wrong and Radiohead could prove theory wrong. Until then, this is hardly a "brilliant move"...this is an extremely established and wealthy band reiterating that the rich can make music without worrying about profit. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Hillary Duff have already proven that. The quality is different, but the concept is the same.
kuyman
You make a good point, but didn't take into account that whatever money the band makes goes directly to them, not through a record company. Record companies hate losses of money as this certainly would be, even if it sells half of their former stuff. One of EMI's biggest artists leaving them is certainly a huge blow to the de facto standards of the recording industry regardless of what they do later.

And Thom Yorke is brilliant, he doesn't make mistakes. (Except for Hail to the Thief.)
deStructuralized
^
I can definitely agree with that. Leaving in and of itself will deal a blow to EMI's revenues.

But on that level, I have my doubts as to how ethical that is...I don't know about Radiohead's history with the label, so feel free to correct me:

As far as I can tell, Radiohead is respected across the world and across genres for being a band that stands by its principles, and doesn't allow the "powers that be" to change their musical direction. I'm doubtful as to whether they would have reached this status (1) had a major label not supported them, at least early on, and (2) had said label not given them a good degree of freedom in creating their music with integrity.

If this was the case, then surely this punishes "good" A&R practices. I mean I think we can both agree the industry as a whole does a lot of terrible things to musicians, but when a good act leaves after being treated well...what are labels going to try and fill that void with?
kuyman
In an interview a few months ago, Thom Yorke said he wanted the old EMI back, before they were concerned about shareholders. I think EMI was a good thing for Radiohead and they definitely did help them develop as a band. EMI now is a lot different than it was ten years ago (OK Computer) though. Radiohead's contract expired and they chose not renew it.

For EMI I would imagine it's a huge blow, really. But Radiohead is in a highly coveted and respected spot, thanks in part to EMI's past support. But EMI will go on as will Radiohead, released from the pressure of a label.

Such is life, really.
Jakob [JaWGames]
All I have to say is that I am seeing forward to this album. I am not crazy in Radiohead but I like their music and hopefully I will continue with that.
PIbrothers
I don't listen to them, but I'm interested to see where this 'no fixed price, no label' thing goes, it could be revolutionary.
pudovkin
I tend to understand labels as villains. Great this post makes think a little different for that, by understanding a label can help the artists on it. As obvious as it be, I've never seen by this optics.

But apart this good guys vs. bad guys issue, I believe all this movement around music recording process being change perfectly natural. Writing this post, a question came up: "but the artists will only make money when they sell ticket shows? But people are "using" his music without buying ticket shows."

As a music video director (and beliefer on a new business model for it), I undestand this as a radio: people will listen the music for free (with the inconvenience that he has to wait for the music to be played), and buy the album not as a primary product from the band, but as a t-shirt, as a simple and cool merchandise. To have the cover, to appreciate the art on its hands. The main focus of the band is selling the shows, where there they can express better (on my beliefs); and we, as consumers, will (I hope so! haha) have better live performances.
twisthigh
I haven't heard of Radiohead in such a long time, I had no clue that they were making music still, well nevertheless, good for them.
Nutteloos
I like much of their older work and will definitely give this a good listen. If it goes further along the lines their latest few albums have went, I won't be buying it though.
Solid_State
deStructuralized wrote:

The people who go for this are going to be the ones who (1) already download without paying, (2) download while paying (a little bit of money), and (3) buy a CD (for more money). What I'm saying is that from an economic standpoint, this will probably push people in those latter categories towards the first, driving down overall profit. If they wanted to go purely digital, they could've used a non-DRM digital retailer like Snocap, which would increase the % of profit going to them while retaining a stable pricing system.


Surely in an open and transparent market it is the consumer who gets to set the price anyway. Currently the record companies are acting as a cartel and fixing the price at a level THEY see fit. As the labels currently have massive vertical integration in the market there is no other alternative. Most of the labels own the distribution companies that deliver the CD's to the stores. Those companies make a profit. Why do you think they dragged their feet for so long with regards to distributing music over the internet. It is their rejection of market forces that enabled napster and its ilk to take off. As at the time of Napster and for a long time after there was NO way to buy downloadable music online. None of the record companies were willing to put up a respectable back collection that would make it feasible for a company to offer legal downloadable music. It took Apple and iTunes to actually force the labels into offering providing this service. And only because the iPod made the market big enough for them not to ignore it.

I am ecstatic that the labels have been cut out of the picture. They are so worried about their bottom line they are no longer prepared to take any risks musically and all they churn out is formulaic and repetitive music that some think tank and committee think will sell after consulting market research to see "what the kids want".

The labels no longer represent the interests of the artist, and if the artist can sell either directly or through ONE intermediate directly to the consumer then this might be the slap in the face the music industry needs.
datter
I've been a long time Radiohead fan and will no doubt get their new album. I'm not even particularly worried about liking it, or how it's going to sound... that's one thing in Radiohead's favor, they grow and alter their sound a bit over time rather nicely so I'm not sure what to expect from them in the future. I like that.
deStructuralized
Solid_State wrote:
deStructuralized wrote:

The people who go for this are going to be the ones who (1) already download without paying, (2) download while paying (a little bit of money), and (3) buy a CD (for more money). What I'm saying is that from an economic standpoint, this will probably push people in those latter categories towards the first, driving down overall profit. If they wanted to go purely digital, they could've used a non-DRM digital retailer like Snocap, which would increase the % of profit going to them while retaining a stable pricing system.


Surely in an open and transparent market it is the consumer who gets to set the price anyway.

That's a misinterpretation of a basic economic concept.

The consumer is a "price setter" to the extent that he decides how much of a product to purchase at a given price. A free market means businesses set the actual prices, which are then checked by consumer demand. If they're buying it, they approve of it.

An efficient market does NOT ask consumers to "donate" any sum of money they choose in exchange for receiving an unrestricted good, because the "drop in the bucket" and "free rider" problems contribute to a lack of revenue. That's symptomatic of market failure, not openness.

Solid_State wrote:
Currently the record companies are acting as a cartel and fixing the price at a level THEY see fit. As the labels currently have massive vertical integration in the market there is no other alternative. Most of the labels own the distribution companies that deliver the CD's to the stores. Those companies make a profit.

1. Market forces have still clearly worked; the average price of a CD in stores has dropped in the past few years.
2. You claim this is happening right now, when a few lines down you admit that iTunes and the mp3 have revolutionized the game by increasing the number of substitute goods available at competitive prices. The industry may have been a cartel a decade ago, but that age is over. They're already being forced to compete, and people are STILL buying crappy music. Look at the iTunes Top 10 downloaded lately?
3. There are plenty of independent distribution, management, and advertising firms out there that offer fair services to artists. See: Koch, Avatar, LA Underground, etc.

If you want to blame the state of the music industry on something, blame the consumer. Blame the people who continue to listen to BS radio and give Fergie platinum records. You don't need to buy a CD or mp3 to survive. If musical quality has dropped in recent years, it hasn't done so without the conscious support of the consumer.

Radiohead had plenty of industry-based options, especially given its clout as a band with integrity. The idea that all "labels are so worried about their bottom line they are no longer prepared to take any risks musically and all they churn out is formulaic" oversimplifies the industry as a whole and is about as helpful as the notion that "all cars are evil, all the time." Extremism never helps.

Pudovkin brings up an interesting point, but I don't think this was "bound to happen" at all. It depends on artist preference. Recorded music is as egalitarian as it gets when it comes to art, whereas live performances are a luxury service that place a strain on the artist and audience.
Solid_State
deStructuralized wrote:

If you want to blame the state of the music industry on something, blame the consumer. Blame the people who continue to listen to BS radio and give Fergie platinum records. You don't need to buy a CD or mp3 to survive. If musical quality has dropped in recent years, it hasn't done so without the conscious support of the consumer.


Typical response from someone who appears to have a vested interest in the status Quo. Does the consumer get to chose what the record labels release? Of course they don't. How can you blame the consumer for lack of choice??? When I go to a record store I can only buy what is put in front of me. How is that my fault it its all a pile of garbage?
deStructuralized
And accusing someone of having "vested interests" while writing off their response as "typical" is pretty typical of certain types of people too Wink. I just want to have a discussion. No need to get heated.

The simple answer is this: that it isn't all a pile of garbage. That you can't expect quality from what's put in front of you, you have to look for it. That unless you can honestly walk into a record store (or the Internet, for that matter) and (1) not find a SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC you like, and (2) could somehow prove ALL those CDs were corrupted by labels, you're exaggerating.

How can I blame the consumer? Because of something called choice.

FYI, I hate a lot of things about "the status quo." And as a consumer, I keep my options open by staying informed, thinking critically about what the media tells me, and keeping my standards high. I refuse to buy either of 50 Cent or Kanye's records because I see a lack of quality in both, and their high publicity "race" doesn't warrant my $12-$24.

How's the consumer supposed to "control the market" when they can't accept even the slightest degree of responsibility for the current state of things? Are they, or are they not, the price setters you were so eager to call them a post ago?
Solid_State
I said they SHOULD be the price setters in the market. You however told me that it was the producers of music who should set the price.
deStructuralized
Actually, what happened was:

I advocated consumer choice while criticizing anarchy:
("The consumer is a "price setter" to the extent that he decides how much of a product to purchase at a given price...If they're buying it, they approve of it. Drop in the bucket" and "free rider" problems [are] symptomatic of market failure, not openness.")

You argued that music businesses don't give consumers enough choice.

I argued that this wasn't the case, and you did not respond.

There is no contradiction here. If businesses did not set prices, transactions would become extremely inefficient (and costly) because every single sale would operate like an auction or bargain. That doesn't mean consumers don't have choice or that they shouldn't exercise it.

Consumers do not directly set prices in any market economy.

If you don't understand what I mean by that, then, we're not on the same page.
Jakob [JaWGames]
I did just download the album... I have to say that this is a clever way to spread their music. Usually people who not wants to buy a CD just download it illegally but now instead it is legal. And not just that you not will forget the download in a while, they can also takes your e-mail and sends newsletters without any protests.

Great job Radiohead Smile
Solid_State
deStructuralized wrote:

Consumers do not directly set prices in any market economy.

If you don't understand what I mean by that, then, we're not on the same page.


They do with the Radiohead model, and it is that what really sticks in your throat isn't it, have you even been following the argument?

When I buy a CD from a record store only a small % of the money I paid for the album goes to the artist, the rest goes to the label for them to promote other artists. Thereby if I buy band A's album, I am subsidising band or artist B. Which is fair enough, except when you hear stories of artists being 85 million. How is that fair on the artist or the consumer who choses to support a particular artist by buying their CD?

I believe why your so hostile about Radioheads model is takes control away from the labels and companies such as yours. The artist can sell directly to the consumer, and you just can't handle that. You want your cut, your % on every sale, forever and eternity. And your upset about it, and I can understand why. Nobody likes control taken away from them.

You say that Radiohead is going to lower costs for the whole market. Well, yes they are. They have cut out a lot of middle men, which means they can afford to. I guess your time in the sun is up.
deStructuralized
lol, what? I haven't been following the argument?

I argued that this was not a feasible business model generally speaking because it drags down revenue FOR THE MUSICIAN. This is a basic economic concept. You claimed that in a free market, consumers directly set prices in general. This is NOT an economic concept. You are misinterpreting the term "price-setter." I explained that.

The second part of your response was that this arrangement is best for the artist and consumer because the music industry acts like a cartel, limiting consumer choice. I noted:
1. People have been buying less CDs, so the market works
2. Consumers are responsible for their choices regardless of the medium
3. Non-DRM alternatives such as Snocap give artists the rights to all of their music while still allowing them to set prices, meaning the Radiohead model is extreme and unnecessary
4. Just because a few record labels are evil, doesn't mean the entire industry is

You ONLY responded to number 3, by attacking me personally, and claiming that the industry limits your choices. I proved that the choice is in fact yours, and that if you want consumers to have more choice, they need to take responsibility for their actions and start making independent choices. A stupid consumer base will perpetuate the status quo, regardless of the model. You did not respond to any of these points.

You instead noted that Radiohead proves the model works. Uh, no. Radiohead is a huge band with an established fanbase, and what's best for them may not be best for musicians generally speaking. Which is what we were talking about in the first place: markets as a whole, musicians as a whole, and the industry as a whole. It worked for Radiohead, and I'm happy for them, but that's not what we've been discussing.

I'm not claiming things should stay exactly as they are, but you never address the fact that some alternatives provide a healthy medium between these two extremes.

So here's my advice to you: take an economics class before you try arguing with me again. Also, take a logic class. Because I'm an independent musician who considers ALL of his options. I don't work for "the industry," I don't plan to, and your continued attempts to accuse me of doing so undermine healthy discussion and show how desperate you are to plug the gaping holes in your reasoning. If your college offers a class in "consistency," you should look into that as well, because you've changed your argument three times since this discussion started.

Take an industrial engineering or introductory business course, and you'll learn that "cutting out the middle man" is a retarded blanket statement to apply in business situations, because intermediaries often BENEFIT the consumer by making purchases more convenient and time-efficient.

Bottom line: take that Che Guevara sticker off of your Hot Topic wallet and loosen the grip on your anti-authority pitchfork, kid. The world doesn't exist in black and white. We're done here, you're keeping up worse than a fat kid in a marathon Laughing.
AftershockVibe
Oh dear oh dear, lol.
Perhaps it would be better to argue in two separate threads here since Radiohead has actually deviated from the original industry model in two not-necessarily-related ways. Firstly, they have gone for the direct download from artist to consumer without the middlemen. Secondly, they have let the customer set their own price as well. The two don't have to go together and each have their own cons and merits.

However, after all that I'd be more interested to know what people here actually though of the music itself? I'm of the opinion that it's definitely no The Bends or OK Computer but still definitely a solid album in it's own right. I feel that it could have done with a bit more meaty guitar-ness but then that's just me and Radiohead hasn't done any of that for a while now.
teknotom
Clearly they're doing something right as on forums everywhere massive threads are piling up about them...
Bengt
The album itself is pretty good. Not super but in the end it's still a nice Radiohead album.
jamesjolliffe
Hey, if you guys like Kid A and In Rainbows, or any of their forays into the electronic music realm, you should listen to the stuff that inspired them. I remember thinking Kid A was insurpassable when I first heard it in like 9th grade or something. But, after listening to the electronic music that inspired Radiohead to do stuff like Kid A, Amnesiac, etc. (Thom Yorke has said on a TV program that he showed up to be interviewed on it just because he heard Squarepusher was going to be there...even the over-idolized Radiohead members have idols!) Radioheads experiments in electronica leave my pants slack, where Venetian Snares and Aphex Twin put a tent on my lap!
HARRINGT0N
Bengt wrote:
The album itself is pretty good. Not super but in the end it's still a nice Radiohead album.


I disagree. I think it's some of their best work since "OK Computer" or at least "Kid A". Which to me, would make it a top 3 album of theirs.
Nutteloos
I'm not sure, I maybe like a couple songs, but I still think their first two albums beat pretty much anything since then. Call me crazy.
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