Radiohead ends ‘In Rainbows’ experiment, enters into talks with Apple iTunes Store

“Radiohead’s camp is in talks with [Apple’s] iTunes Music Store for the release of ‘In Rainbows,'” Lars Brandle reports for Billboard.

Radiohead “remains a notable omission from the world’s leading download store because of the band’s assertion that its albums remain complete,” Brandle reports. “On the other hand, iTunes’ successful model allows customers to unbundle albums, or pick and chose individual tracks.”

“Talks are ongoing with iTunes,” Brandle reports. “A deal with Apple Computer’s download store would represent a massive breakthrough on a number of levels, and one which apparently would require a shift in position from one of the parties.”

“Radiohead became one of the music industry’s hottest topics this year when they recorded the [In Rainbows] album independently and issued it digitally through its official Web site from Oct. 10, allowing downloaders to name a price to own a virtual copy,” Brandle reports.

“That “honesty box’ experiment will come to an end on Monday, the band has announced, paving the way for the traditional release set-up of the album within the next few weeks,” Brandle reports. “‘The download area that is ‘In Rainbows’ will be shutting its doors on the 10th December 2007,’ reads a note posted Wednesday on the band’s official Web site.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lurker_PC” for the heads up.]

Perhaps Radiohead realized that the album is an artificial construct designed by the music cartels to create bundles laced with filler for which they can overcharge fans? Or perhaps they decided that they just wanted to get paid? By the way, if the “album” is good enough and coherent enough — ironically, as are most of Radiohead’s — we’ll buy the album. What we are opposed to are those who would dictate that we buy the album. That time has long since passed. Consumers are in charge now, not the music cartels.

If an artist really intends for their work to be heard and purchased in full, then eliminate separate tracks. Just release a one long US$9.99 track (It’s been done already: Prince’s “Lovesexy” is 9 “songs” all in one 45:03 track for $9.99 via iTunes Store) and then sell, perform, and demand that radio play it that way. Otherwise, by allowing yourselves to chop up the oh-so-sacred album in concert, DJ’s to chop it up on radio, and the music video outlets to chop it up on air/online, we know you’re just not that serious about your concept of “album as art.” You really just want us to pay you more to get the bits we really want.

We really don’t see Apple bending to Radiohead’s demand that they sell only the complete album, since Apple’s iTunes Store has survived just fine without them for years now. That said, if the two parties do reach a deal, we may see the bad old “Album Only” rear its ugly head on certain Radiohead tracks within iTunes Store. It would be unfortunate, but not at all unexpected.

75 Comments

  1. I faced with the choice of being a listener or a consumer, I’d take the former any day. This “artificial contruct” blather has gotten terribly stale. If you insist on considering music a commodity, fine, then vote with your change purse. Just don’t assume that everybody else has the same priorities.

  2. “Perhaps Radiohead realized that the album is an artificial construct designed by the music cartels to create bundles laced with filler for which they can overcharge fans?”

    Yawny yawn yawn. Same ol’ same ol’, MDN. And hey “Prince”, love your albums, particularly 1999.

  3. Grigori,

    Do you want MDN to change their beliefs on the subject just to keep you entertained?

    I agree with MDN: I want choice and don’t want to be forced to buy full albums. I’ll buy good albums when I want, not when coked up music execs force me to only buy albums.

  4. MDN’s take is a bit off. I don’t mind Radiohead bundling, and the idea of them selling “singles” does sound cheap.

    On the other hand, one-hit wonders ought to be refused to bundle their filler. Radiohead is not filler, however.

  5. There are a handful of cases where a legitimate claim can be made that the album is a single piece of art. We all know those cases and you can count them on the fingers of two hands. However, even in the most persuasive case — “Tommy” by The Who — the band performs individual songs (saw them in concert just a few months ago) and, back when, the radio stations played individual songs. If it is ok to do that, then why is it a problem to sell the individual songs? I am backing Apple on this one — Radiohead needs to join the 21st century.

    That said, the real breakthrough — one for which Apple might bend, is the negotiations directly with the artist. If Apple gets a deal directly with Radiohead, it could send a powerful message to the record labels — your days are numbered. As far as I am concerned, it can’t happen soon enough. It is hard to believe how out-of-touch Universal, Warner and the rest are.

  6. This article captures the way that the internet (iTunes, new pipes, whatnot) is displacing old media (NBC, or Universal, or whatnot). It’s going to happen.

    Consumers and artists get better deals. Media companies get bankrupted. Hold your hats.

    I blogged this point on pwnership.com.

  7. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this subject. Since Radiohead is in charge of their own product not a “Music Cartel” it would stand to reason they should be able to sell their own product how they see fit. There is a different between “Band of the Day” and Radiohead in the respect that they are artists and consider themselves such. Most highly produced/marketed bands are required to “fill” the albums with whatever to sell the package and fulfill their contract. Radiohead believes they are producing and releasing an piece of art. So I fully understand their reasoning behind wanting to sell the album as a whole. I think the idea of what’s filler depends on 2 things. Intention of the producer to add poorly written and ill thought out content in order to boost the selling tracks of the album and the consumers opinion of said tracks. Simply stating that ALL albums contain one or 2 good songs and then the rest being filler is pretty ignorant. I’m not saying MDN has said exactly this, but it sure comes across that way. I doubt folks feel that way about Pet Sounds, American Idiot, Dark Side of the Moon to name a few. Fact is when I go to the store to get eggs. I don’t just pick one out of the carton. When I buy a chess set I don’t just buy the Queen and the Rooks. That said. I’m sure you will see an “album only” tag on quite a few songs if it’s added to iTunes. And I honestly wont complain. Just because a consumer demands something to be a certain way, doesn’t mean it should or will be.

  8. MDN, You sound like a bunch of morons. The album is an “artificial construction” the same way anything else is that has been invented. Stop. There are plenty of artists who view albums as complete pieces of work, it doesn’t make them “fake” or music industry puppets, in fact it is bands who actually have integrity and take their music as “art” do this. I agree with most your takes, but with this you sound stupid.

  9. I’m actually a bit sorry to see Radiohead’s attempt at self promotion/distribution has failed, as it had the potential to herald a new era that would cut out the labels/middlemen entirely. Unfortunately, so many musicians belabor under the delusion that all their songs are great, and therefore seek to bundle their music, while the consumer knows what they like and just wants to buy the best content. iTunes should give Radiohead the right to bundle their sales if they want. It won’t hurt iTunes, but instead will only hurt Radiohead’s music sales.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.