A Penny for Your Music


| 1/2/2008 11:39:38 AM


Tags: Radiohead, In Rainbows, economics of music, record buying,

In RainbowsRadiohead, 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.

michael rowe_2
1/2/2008 2:05:46 PM

I read this a while ago on Pitchfork, but it's a pretty apt summary for the latest do-it-yourself zeitgeist Radiohead created with In Rainbows: "The 'pay what you want' fire sale that launched In Rainbows in October wasn't a new idea so much as a perfect amalgamation of distribution tactics that bands large (Smashing Pumpkins) and small (the thousands on MySpace) have tried since the birth of the mp3. As technorati, Radiohead are to indie bands what Led Zeppelin were to broke old bluesmen: They took the ideas and got people to scream about them."