This is already old news in this age of hyper-fast digital madness, but for those of you who are completely ignorant of the world around you, Radiohead has once again changed the universe — kind of. In Rainbows, the band’s latest album, was released this past Wednesday. Not only did it come out Wednesday, the day after CDs are supposed to come out, but it was released without the help of the perpetually evil corporate suits that make the music industry dance like marionette puppets.
In Rainbows is only available for download on their Web site, but the best part is that you decide the price. In an interview with The Gothamist, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood said the “choose your own adventure” in commerce was done “to make people pause for even a few seconds and think about what music is worth.”
With something like this, I would happily pay full retail price, both for principles and conviction, but also just to support a band that is being so kind to its fans. Admittedly, though, I went for the $0 option when I downloaded it. I just really wanted to hear it, and I didn’t want to have to fill out credit card information (it takes so long).
I will say, though, that I will buy the CD whenever it may come out.
Besides Radiohead breaking away from the bureaucracy of the industry, Nine Inch Nails has also recently decided to go on without the aid of a label. As Trent Reznor says, “It gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience.”
Circumventing the commoditization of art and music isn’t anything new. Prior to the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, Wilco posted the albums to be streamed online. Plenty of other bands have followed suit either on their own Web sites or through postings on MySpace.
The Sheds, based out of Cincinnati, is the full realization of what Reznor and Radiohead seem to want to be. The duo not only writes amazing and beautiful songs but they also do it for free. All of their music can be downloaded for no charge on their Web site theshedsmusic.com.
With Starbucks’ record label, payola scandals and yet another Bob Dylan greatest hits compilation, it sometimes seems that music is only made to line wallets and create an atmosphere in prime time television dramas. It’s good to see that some artists, unlike Jack White or Metallica, are willing to let their music be enjoyed instead of commercialized.
Brian loves e-mails and hates The Man. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org