In a past blog we opined that, as CD sales continue to fall in favor of tune by tune downloading, we might one day see the traditional multi-track record go the way of the Victrola. After all, consumers have grown tired of spending $15 and higher for CDs that only feature one or two exceptional songs surrounded by filler. Radiohead, always at the forefront of consumer tastes and trends, is once again taking a new approach to providing quality product to fans without the hefty price tag.
For their 2007 release, “In Rainbows,” Radiohead allowed fans to download their CD directly from the band’s Web site and pay whatever amount they preferred, including nothing if they chose. Today, a new song, “My Twisted Words” was released by the band, offered free as a download at http://radiohead.com/deadairspace/. Leader Thom Yorke had been intimating that the band planned to release future tunes in this manner (one at a time) or via EP (2-3 songs); again eschewing the traditional, now outdated, approach. They have not been under contract by a traditional record company since 2003.
“We’ve been recording for a while, and this was one of the first we finished,” wrote band member Jonny Greenwood in introducing the free download, as reported by today’s Chicago Tribune. He also mentioned “There’s other stuff in various states of completion” which presumably will be released when completed.
In an era of music pirating and a feeling that anything available on the Internet should be free, Radiohead has taken a ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ approach. In turn, the band, like no other, continues to build a loyal fan following dedicated to not only plunking down money for good music but also concerts and merchandise. It is a ‘long view’ that, the group has proven, wins every time.