Radiohead: Free as in No Record Label

Radiohead have finished their new album. It will be available as a download, without any record label or store as an intermediary. It will also be available as a deluxe “discbox,” but let’s concentrate on the download.

This is huge news, for reasons including the following: the price for the download is set by the customer; there is no record label involved; it’s Radiohead! Choosing your own price to download music isn’t new; for example, Jane Siberry has used this model for years now. But the current story is about… Radiohead!

Daniel Langendorf at last100 found some good quotes for his post on the story.

  • Thom Yorke, when the band’s contract with EMI expired four years ago: “it probably would give us perverse pleasure to say ‘f*** you’ to this decaying business model.”
  • A record company exec: “If the best band in the world doesn’t want any part of us, I’m not sure what’s left for this business.”
  • A record producer: “if you can pay whatever you want for the music by the best band in the world, why would you pay 13 dollars or 99 cents for music by somebody less talented?”

Daniel also remarks that “pre-ordering In Rainbows was a pain.” I certainly found it so. I got two different error messages while using the site, and no confirmation email. I’ll try again tomorrow, and I’ll check my credit card statement soon.

I dread to think how busy the site will be when it starts to allow the (millions of?) prepaid downloads. Perhaps dread is too strong a word; perhaps it should be reserved for how major record labels must be feeling now.

New Iron & Wine Album

Shepherd’s DogI am loving the new Iron & Wine album, The Shepherd’s Dog. I’ve listened to previous I&W stuff, often following “based on the stuff you listen to, you’ll like this too” recommendations. But the previous stuff never grabbed me.

As usual, The Hype Machine provides useful links. There are reviews of the album, including sample MP3 of the new material and comparisons with earlier releases, at Music for kids who can’t read good and at It’s hard to find a friend.

To add my own older and more British comparison, The Shepherd’s Dog rather reminds me of the first couple of Gomez albums. Each song includes multiple musical strands, most of the strands sound familiar, and they are woven together to create something greater than their sum.