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Radiohead Burn Down Their Entire Audience

“Radiohead’s much-debated decision to let fans choose what they pay for its new album online is a promotional tactic to boost sales of compact discs, the band’s management said yesterday. ‘If we didn’t believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn’t do what we are doing,’ Bryce Edge of Courtyard Management told Music Week, the UK’s industry magazine.”

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  1. I’d like to hear it from one of the band members mouth’s. Not from someone from the management company.

  2. How exactly is that “Burning down their entire audience”?
    They had to have faith that the album would sell.
    They’re showing that you can make smart businesses AND be fair at the same time.
    Besides, don’t listen to the industry rags.
    Radiohead is public enema #1 to them right now.

  3. Jimy Valon Jimy Valon

    The only way I can see this really being a burn would be if the CD was a dramatically different mix but I don’t see that on the cards.

    Fans expected a CD release eventually with many of those assuming they’d pick one up.

    This could just be management speak turned mantra to help this guy deal with peer pressure…..or if you want to look at it as information from someone in the know it could just be someone iterating that Radiohead didn’t change the rules of the industry – they just pissed on them a little.

  4. Manzo Manzo

    I don’t see how that makes any sense as a business model. I bought their album online for a dollar. Why would I rebuy it on CD for $10?

  5. The screenwriter Todd Alcott over at LiveJournal pointed me in the direction of this, tonight. Radiohead is, apparently, not at all broke from this move.

  6. Manzo – you would rebuy it on CD because the version you downloaded off their site only has a bitrate of 160kbps, which is good enough, but it’s not great.

  7. hank hank

    160KBPS might not be good enough for audiophiles, but for the legions of us who listen to music mostly through a computer or an MP3 player it is excessive. When I buy a CD I rip it down to 128KBPS, to get a good file size without introducing noise that is detectable on my hardware.

    I thought Radiohead’s decision to go with 160KBPS was pretty smart… this was an experiment in reaching the masses, not in appeasing cheap audiophiles.

  8. James Hart James Hart

    I thought I read the CD will have tracks not available through the download. People who bought online are going to feel like they only got a partial album.

  9. aren’t we all forgetting something? amidst all the debate and counter-arguments lets not forget that its a damn good collection of tunes from a world famous band who lost the plot a bit on their last album. i love ‘in rainbows’ for its deceptively simplistic but ultimately powerful songs.

  10. Trystero Trystero

    why is this a surprise, and what’s wrong with wanting to sell more records to people?

  11. Trystero Trystero

    Have you considered that this revelation could be just another way in which they’re gauging people’s reactions to the music industry?

  12. Rob Rob

    I don’t get how it’s a “burn” either. Are the folks who dl’d the music somehow getting screwed? Am I missing something?

  13. clvrmnky clvrmnky

    Horrors! Everyone agrees that DRM-free, easily available and well-priced online music boosts CD and back-catalog sales, and is a Good Thing for Fans and the Music Biz.

    Unless we /admit/ that’s part of the reason to offer DRM-free, easily available and well-priced music.

    If a near-free download acted as an incentive to go ahead and buy the fancy packaged release for 40 quid, what exactly is the problem, again?

    Double-standard pie, anyone? It’s the special today.

  14. Alexa Dickman Alexa Dickman

    It makes sense to me. I mean, if an artist creates any work of quality, a good chunk of people will feel compelled to give them more money. This shouldn’t be a new concept to comic book fans, who are among some of the worst pirates on the Internet. Half the comics on my pull list and most of my trades are books that I downloaded first.

  15. Eric Eric

    Considering that the first part of the album was harmless bollocks sounding like Moby teamed up with Coldplay (How much more lifeless can you get?), I don’t feel cheated by having downloaded it for entirely free.

    It’s not like the second part won’t be ripped and downloadable anyway.

  16. They are proving a significant point : People who were going to pirate the music ANYWAY were not going to pay for your album in the first place. Just look at the download figures on any torrent site. It’s not in the millions, or in the hundreds of thousands, more like a few thousand.

  17. I’m a little stunned by this too.

    If anything we had a band release to early adopters in a format they wanted and then to the mass market the same way.

    How is this burning anyone? We don’t live in an entirely digital age, yet, and ignoring the “boxes-on-shelves” audience would not only be elitist it’d probably be crappy business sense.

    And burn the rest of their fan base. I’d buy online from then again.

  18. Brad Elmore Brad Elmore

    Burning their audience? Because of some comment from management about wanting to sell more albums? Get a grip. This was a great idea and as was previously stated, 160KBPS is fine for mass audience consumption.

  19. Baen Books makes their ebooks free. They boost print sales.

    John Scalzi published his first novel online for free. It made it into print and helped to launch his career.

    MJ Rose started on the Net and is now in print too.

    The Net still isn’t The World. (And part of me wants to jump up and yell Thank You Jesus! for that…)

  20. “160KBPS might not be good enough for audiophiles, but for the legions of us who listen to music mostly through a computer or an MP3 player it is excessive. When I buy a CD I rip it down to 128KBPS, to get a good file size without introducing noise that is detectable on my hardware.”

    Audiophiles generally wouldn’t be dealing with MP3.

    It’s probably your ears as much as your hardware — some people hear high frequencies better than others, in which age is a factor. 128kbps CBR encoding cuts most sound above 16KHz, which enough people can hear as distortion that presets tend to default to higher. The biggest difference is variable bitrate gives better quality than constant, since more space gets allocated to reproduce parts of a song there’s more going on in, less if less.

    In Rainbows: can’t say hearing the music made me want to buy the CD, or even listen to it again…

  21. you guys may not get it, but those of us that decided to try this album ON PRINCIPLE, because we thought Radiohead were doing something cool and/or right, we do feel burned.

  22. agentarsenic agentarsenic

    If I care enough I’ll grab a torrent. Musicians should release music for free and tour for their money (just like almost every new MySpace musician). I have no problem paying $8 to even $30 dollars a show….just not a fucking cd.

  23. Charlie Vick Charlie Vick

    I’m sorry, Julien – I bought the album online, paid for it (5 quid/10 bucks). They might release a CD album later. Hell, it might even have tracks I don’t have; I’ll probably wind up downloading those. So I get the whole album eventually (or already, if those ‘new tracks’ are so much air) and I paid a price I chose. How exactly did I get burnt? I decided how much to pay, I paid, I got music, and it was good.

    “We thought Radiohead [was] doing something cool and/or right”

    They did something both cool and right. They put out another goddamn album. It’s pretty good. What more do you want? Them to not care about money? Even Shakespeare got to get paid.

    And like people have pointed out, this is some management flack talking in that quote. I mean, we’re getting bent out of shape because a management PR hack says, ‘we’re only in it for the money?’ How is this surprising? ‘Managerial PR person a dick, only cares about money’ isn’t exactly news for the front page.

    Johnny Greenwood had a snippet interview with some Rolling Stone recording device somewhere. It’s not exactly him or the band climbing on top of Mt. Asshole and raining shit upon all of us.

  24. Zoe Zoe

    And radiohead never claimed they were trying to be revolutionary…in fact, if you go to the website, it states right there that the album isn’t in stores YET. Suggesting that it would be down the road. It was the media and bloggers that made a big deal out of it, claimed that Radiohead was trying to Change The World As We Know It. Radiohead themselves haven’t claimed that at all. They just wanted to get the album out before it leaked (as happened with their previous 3 albums).

  25. Shoot. I’m going to go home and buy their album for 15 bucks. I’ve never really listened to any Radiohead, but I might like it, plus I like any artist who sticks it to the recording industry. When is this parasitic and overbearing industry going to die? Think about it. What are they referred to as? They’re called “the recording industry”. Their whole business model is based upon recording and distributing music being a very expensive and capital intensive endeavor. But guess what, it isn’t any more and no one needs them. They do a lousy job promoting new music, or at least new music that anyone with a brain likes and they do a lousy job keeping older music available. Why won’t they die! How many silver bullets, stakes through the heart and angry mobs of villagers will it take to put this shambling, braindead monolith down? OK, I’m going to get my prescription for amphetamines renewed and then drink a quad shot mocha to calm myself down.

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