Buzz is everywhere this morning about Radiohead’s decision to release a new album on their own through inrainbows.com. We caught wind of this Time article which is a good read, especially the part about how the labels are reacting:
While many industry observers speculated that Radiohead might go off-label for its seventh album, it was presumed the band would at least rely on Apple’s iTunes or United Kingdom-based online music store 7digital for distribution. Few suspected the band members had the ambition (or the server capacity) to put an album out on their own. The final decision was apparently made just a few weeks ago, and, when informed of the news on Sunday, several record executives admitted that, despite the rumors, they were stunned. “This feels like yet another death knell,” emailed an A&R executive at a major European label. “If the best band in the world doesn’t want a part of us, I’m not sure what’s left for this business.”
Labels can still be influential and profitable by focusing on younger acts that need their muscle to get radio play and placement in record stores — but only if the music itself remains a saleable commodity. “That’s the interesting part of all this,” says a producer who works primarily with American rap artists. “Radiohead is the best band in the world; if you can pay whatever you want for music by the best band in the world, why would you pay $13 dollars or $.99 cents for music by somebody less talented? Once you open that door and start giving music away legally, I’m not sure there’s any going back.”
Best Week Ever has put it perfectly: Radiohead Bends Record Industry Over Conference Table And Goes To Town.