Without a record label or a retail price, critically acclaimed British rock band Radiohead will experiment with a new marketing strategy for their heavily anticipated seventh studio album, In Rainbows.
On Oct. 1, guitarist Jonny Greenwood casually announced via Radiohead’s ‘Dead Air Space" blog, "Hello everyone. Well, the new album is finished, and it’s coming out in 10 days. We’ve called it In Rainbows. Love from us all."
Though in brevity, the statement created a buzz that may make this experiment a successful one for Radiohead. The band decided to let fans determine what price they want to pay for the digital download of the album. And it’s perfectly acceptable to pay nothing besides the required $1 transaction fee. When In Rainbows’ songs are placed in the online checkout basket, a question mark pops up where the price normally would be. Click it, and "It’s up to you" appears. Click once more and it prompts the words "It’s really up to you." It is a generous way to show their commitment to their fans by letting their audience decide the value of the music.
In Rainbows will be available as a digital download beginning Oct. 10, only through the band’s official website, www.radiohead.com. Alternatively, fans can decide to purchase the album as part of a deluxe box set for $80, which includes the album on CD as well as two 12" vinyl records and various extras that fans will love such as extra songs, photographs and more.
Not only does this strategy allow Radiohead to keep more profits (instead of paying a record label and retailers), it also allows them to keep control of their art. Without a record label, Radiohead owns complete distribution and artistic rights over their music.
In Rainbows marks the first time a major album’s price is determined by what individual consumers want to pay for it. Radiohead should fare well using this type of strategy, as they are an established, admired band with fans whom have been waiting four years for a new album.
Radiohead, likely the most popular band in the world without a record label, hasn’t released an album since 2003’s Hail to the Thief. Radiohead’s reputation and the size of their fanbase should propel the release of In Rainbows to levels artistically unseen