Radiohead, as you probably know, is a Very Influential Band. Now that it’s sold its In Rainbows album online by letting fans name their price, should we expect everyone else to do likewise? Will Wilco do it, but from a distinctly American starting point? Will Coldplay give its music away in a manner that’s kind of pretty but far less interesting than when Radiohead did it?
If they did, it wouldn’t keep them from making rent. Not so for lesser-knowns. In Philadelphia Weekly, musician Michael Alan Goldberg enters the debate with a particularly lively “open letter to Thom Yorke.” He describes his view of the post-In Rainbows scene:
I can’t tell you how many MySpace messages I’ve gotten in the past couple weeks asking, “Radiohead gave away their new album for free. Why can’t you?”
Because it’s what I do for a living.
The other day a kid came up to the merch table where our new clearly marked $8 CD was and said, “I’ll give you $2 for it.”
This isn’t Priceline, bozo. I gotta eat.
A few weeks ago, Radiohead removed the album download from its site. It may be that music history will judge this episode as groundbreaking, like OK Computer. Or maybe we’ll forget about it entirely, as we’ve already forgotten Hail to the Thief.