Radiohead Once Again "Borders" on Innovation

Thom Yorke and company can never be accused of being complacent or staid. To be sure, Radiohead thrives on innovation—lyrically, musically and from a business standpoint. The band recently announced they would allow new music from their LP, “In Rainbows”, to be downloaded from their website for whatever price consumers wanted to pay; be it $10, $1 or nothing at all. Record companies and retailers are, in turn, quaking in their collective boots as traditional sales of CDs continue to fall.

Yet, think about the wisdom of this move. Radiohead is poised to expose its music to a greater audience than ever before while controlling how it is distributed. A precedent was set earlier in the year by Prince who literally gave this latest CD away; in turn, spurring ticket sales for his concerts that sold out for big bucks. In its first two days of availability, 1.2 million copies of “In Rainbows” were downloaded.

Now comes word that bookseller giant Borders will innovate beyond online in stores, offering digital products and services while allowing customers to download digital purchases—including the ability to mix and burn CDs and snag e-books in store.

The multi-platform approach by both Radiohead and Borders is in synch with how visionary entities operate and what Tanner Friedman counsels to our clients. In an environment of change, one must also innovate and evolve or risk survival.