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In Rainbows

September 30th, 2007

Radiohead has finally completed their new album, and has made it exclusively available via their website. It can be downloaded starting 10.10. For downloaded copies of the album (most likely 128kbps crap), they’re using the pay what you can format. The discbox (double heavy gram vinyl+CD+download) is rather pricey at around $80, but at least they’re including a heavy vinyl copy and they throw in the download. Radiohead’s choice of making the album available only from them is a rather obvious and refreshing giant middle finger to the record industry that seems intent on implosion.

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  1. Brendan
    October 1st, 2007 at 20:37 | #1

    Refreshing my ass.  I consider it a giant middle finger at people who appreciate going to a store, buying a goddam CD with compelling music and decent artwork that fits neatly in a lovely steel CD rack in alphabetical order.  So now, I’ve got some bullshit maxell CD-R in an ugly fucking case that looks like I stole it anyway.  Unless I want to pay $80 for a bunch of bullshit.  That they’ll mail me.  With shipping and handling no less.  From the UK.  How very big of you gents.  I suspect half the album will be incomprehensible scratches and bleeps over Thom Yorke wailing about god knows what.  At least the Chads and Trixies will have something cool to talk about.

    Radiohead climaxed for me sitting on a cold September night in 1995 on the lawn at Riverport, freezing my ass off while they ran through the high points of Pablo Honey and damn near all of The Bends.  (Opening for R.E.M. btw).  This may be the last straw for me.

  2. October 1st, 2007 at 23:32 | #2

    I like my indie record shops too, and I’m sure I’ll find the vinyl available somehow at Reckless before I can get it in the mail (they had Kozelek’s live disc before it was available from his website) – but the brick and mortar record shop in most strip mall-laden suburban wastelands is soon to be a thing of the past. The download is unfortunately becoming a natural condition of the planet, despite the requisite huge reduction in sound quality. Americans will take convenience over quality in almost every case. There has to be a way for the musicians to be paid though, and a band like Radiohead is certainly big enough to sell their music directly without having to pay the industry whores who clearly want to see the indie shops dead. I’d love for the disc to be the main delivery format and have musicians support indie shops, but I’m quite obviously a dinosaur.

    I think the Chads and Trixies are getting too excited about the new Avril Lavigne and (for the older ones with the strollers almost ready to leave Lincoln Park) their collection of Phish to worry about Radiohead.

    And $80 is insane. It has something to do with the fact that the dollar is absolutely worthless, as the CD+vinyl is 40 GBP. $40 would make much more sense. Agreed, $80 for something I could probably create on garageband with my ibook is a bit much – though Yorke’s solo album was decent, so I’m still hopeful. If the whole retail CD industry really is going to hell (and it sure looks that way), Radiohead ought to help it go down with a bang.

  3. Brendan
    October 2nd, 2007 at 19:14 | #3

    I don’t begrudge them releasing this online…I begrudge them for releasing this online ONLY. 

    I don’t begrudge them breaking new ground and doing this without the record industry.  I don’t think it’s authentic though.  Talk to me in a year and a half when they again sign with Capitol or some other major.  From the reports I’ve read, this doesn’t seem like a moral stand that they are going to continue.  We aren’t talking Pearl Jam boycotts here.  Even if they didn’t sign with a label, would it have killed them to have a distribution agreement that put a hard copy in their FANS hands?  Sounds egomaniacal to me.  But maybe that’s cause I stopped really listening after OK Computer.

    I also think there is a critical mass of losers like ourselves that means the hard copy distribution will never go away.  “Mostly young men, looking for deleted Smiths’ singles, or original, not rereleased underlined, Frank Zappa albums.”

  4. October 3rd, 2007 at 15:07 | #4

    I’d agree about the label thing – I wonder though if they are using this album to test the waters as to how much they’ll take in – if it’s within 10% of what they would earn with a label (and all of its requisite bullshit) they might just go this route.

    I’d like to think too that were among that critical mass, but I think we’re the last generation of music buyers who will venerate the CD. All the kids after us will most likely not give a shit. I wish the music biz had been able to foresee this, but they held fast to an archaic business model that could never work in these times.

    I really wouldn’t mind being able to download music – I’m in an area where the brick and mortar indie shop isn’t likely going anywhere, but it would still be cool to be able to download as long as it was redbook quality. Paying $10/album for 128kbps is ridiculous. Just give me the full uncompressed files and I’d be happy to pay full price. In this area I fully admit I’m a freak, and the powers that be aren’t likely to offer this data as long as people are willing to settle for the crap that is insanely compressed mp3’s.

  5. October 9th, 2007 at 19:04 | #5

    The latest news is that the album will see a “proper” CD release sometime early next year, for those that would prefer a real disc and don’t want to pay $80 for the privilege. A major label will probable get the honors of doing that.

    Here’s hoping it’s not 128kbps. If the fact that Apple has 256kbps AACs in their iTunes Plus store and Amazon’s beta MP3 service offers high-quality LAME-encoded VBR files is any indication, people are getting the idea that some people want high quality files if they’re paying for it.

    The ridiculous $80 is really only because of the weak dollar. In better days it would have been $60 which is…… a little less ridiculous.

    (I’m Robert’s friend, Ian, by the way.)

  6. October 9th, 2007 at 19:10 | #6

    According to this thread it’s going to be 160kbps MP3s. That’s a real shame.

  7. October 9th, 2007 at 21:14 | #7

    Welcome Ian, and thanks for the info – though the news completely sucks. I know they weren’t going to offer redbook or even apple lossless, but 160kbps? I guess since they’re selling the download at a pay what you want price, we ought to pay them per bit. If the uncompressed redbook CD would sell for $12 or so, then a heavily compressed file with less than a tenth the information should be worth about $1.20.

  8. October 10th, 2007 at 10:42 | #8

    I just got my download, paid them 3 pounds sterling even. There are a few bright spots in the depressing/sad bastard/Let Down from Ok Computer vein like “House Of Cards” – but many of the songs I could have honestly thrown together in Garageband.

  9. October 13th, 2007 at 17:24 | #9

    I’ve now listened to this thing for the past 3 days, and It’s really quite good. There is much more melodic content than I noticed on the first listen. I was listening to it late last night coming back into the city from the burbs, and the song “All I Need” fit the mood just about perfectly.

    There are a few bleeps and bloops here and there, but it’s a rather musical album with a nice smattering of instruments. The last track “Videotape” is very nicely done, featuring an acoustic piano. It’s definitely passed the “I’ve listened to this album for three days straight” test – I’ve got my ipod dock connected to my big stereo and am eagerly awaiting the CD version which should be available after Jan. 1 as RH is apparently negotiating with the 4 big labels.

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