Radiohead announced pre-sales for their record-label-free new album. The twist? You pay what you want. We predict that they will make a hilarious amount of money. [Radiohead]


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  1. AdamthePugh says:

    I think this is an excellent idea. I already ordered the box set with 2 CDs and 2 LPs. That site was running slower than my grandma walking through molasses, but I made it through. Grandma would be proud.

  2. The discbox rings up for £40, which is obscene (although the digital download is included).

    The download rings up for £__.__. When I click on the “?,” I get this:

    “It’s Up To You.”

    Another click on the question mark:

    “No really. It’s up to you.”

    So I type in £2.50. Radiohead won’t have it; when I click “Update Cart,” my total reads £5.00. Next, I remove everything from the cart and type in £1.00. Radiohead won’t have that, either; it throws me back to £__.__.

    Saying that Radiohead is letting you name your price is a little bit misleading. They’re letting you name your price — as long as it’s above a certain amount. Nevertheless, this is a neat gimmick, and it reminds me of Amie Street’s model: all songs start out free; the more popular the songs become, the more they cost.

  3. FREAKHEAD says:

    I couldn’t be more excited to see this pricing model. I hope it proves successful and more bands give this a try.

  4. FREAKHEAD says:

    @loquaciousmusic: I was afriad there might be a catch, their site is very slow so I didn’t get that far, only the “its up to you”. It does say somewhere on there that their is a transaction fee for the download so perhaps that is a requirement. Maybe when the site settles down a bit more I can dig out more info.

  5. Takkun says:


    Their website appears to be somewhat slow. I had to reload the page a few times before all the buttons would load. I had no problem entering £0.00 on my first try (I eventually decided to pay more than that, though).

  6. Very interesting. I’ll have to go back and try again.

    I’m not a big Radiohead fan (I love “Knives Out,” and that’s about it), but I’ll be glad to support them in this venture.

  7. Straight out of ‘Freakonomics’. I love it.

  8. SimonSwegles says:

    I had no trouble with a low buy price either. Well, kind of. I offered £2.50, and the system actually charged me £2.00. Maybe making up for “overcharging” LOQUACIOUSMUSIC? :-)

  9. pokysharpy says:


    There’s no minimum required. I just paid £3.00 successfully. (It’s coming out on regular CD in early 2008, I will pay full-price then). Must be a glitch because t he site is getting so hammered right now.

  10. amoeba says:

    I love Radioehad (music, no the musicians) and I already wasted 81 dollars in the set :-) and also 10 kales or bucks as a donation for the download of the digital music. This happens when you listen bands from an early age. I had no problem, because I was woking in my computer when the band posted the info and I did all my purchases right after I read it.

  11. Recury says:

    I think Audioscrobbler/ did this awhile back with subscription fees. I kind of hate it for some reason. Just tell me what to pay and I’ll pay it (or not). It’s OK if just some people do it but would drive me nuts if I had to name my price on everything I bought. I’m no good at haggling.

  12. wring says:

    does it come w/ the album cover and a jewel case at least?

  13. boandmichele says:

    i dont think some of you understand this entire situation. i read that they dont have a label. every penny goes straight to them. this is perfect, and this is the way that business should be done.

    they are skirting the RIAA’s cronies.

    they are in command of their artistic medium.

    heck, its even good for the environment.

    this will be the first album i will purchase since 2004. and i will give $20 for it, just like i would at a store around here.

  14. Here’s a link to the full story:

    [ ]

    Apparently, Radiohead’s website went kaput. I can’t log on right now…

  15. amoeba says:

    @boandmichele: You nailed it! That’s why I DONATED $10 or like £5.00 or £6.00 can’t remember.@loquaciousmusic: I logged in just recently and no problems with my server. But, jonny posted something about the site being collapsed.

    Gotta work!

  16. muddgirl says:

    @pokysharpy: Where are you getting that the album is coming out in stores in early 2008? No one really knows what’s going on – the band is playing it all pretty close to the chest. I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if it was only released through W.A.S.T.E.

    Lots of people have signed up to download the CD for free, confirmation code and all. The site is really wonky, though. I took me a couple refreshes to get the cart to work.

  17. id voice of reason says:

    great idea–it’s not like they need more money…let the people decide.

  18. Xerloq says:

    @FREAKHEAD: Just to test, I put in $0.00 and got no transaction fee. I’ll buy the box set once I hear the album.

  19. FREAKHEAD says:

    @Xerloq: Thanks for looking into this further. The site was going so slow it was hard to find more info.

  20. kahri says:

    This is a great idea, unfortunately only for the already well known. Radiohead already got the benefit of being “under a label” to make them a household name and now they’ll use that to benefit from their indie-ness. As a new way of distributing your music, this method does many things right. It won’t however change the music industry as it does nothing to promote new artists. just my .02

  21. boandmichele says:

    id say any band that can get out there and expose themselves can use this method of distribution.

    good music will be found, it doesnt really have to be marketed by a label. (for example, nickelback sucks, as do their commercials)

    the arcade fire is a good example of good music bringing a band into fame.

  22. kahri says:

    @boandmichele: Arcade Fire was discovered by David Bowe who then brought them to sign (that’s right) with MERGE. Agreed, there are ways to get noticed w/out a label, but nowhere near the exposure a major label gets you. You can’t compare the popularity of Radiohead to Arcade Fire and it has nothing to do w/ the music.

  23. knev says:

    Kahri, I’m not sure if you’re aware of the internet, but people seem to be using it to market their own stuff these days. I never heard of someone like Jonathan Coulton until the internet made him famous. Of course, it helps that his music is good, which is entirely the point. Good music will be found.

  24. boandmichele says:

    i wasn’t comparing the two, really. just saying that arcade fire is a great case of universally accepted/acclaimed “good music” making the band, without over-visibility by labels or being aggressively marketed.

    i could be wrong about that, just going on personal experience. (yes im now comparing the two) this act by radiohead will bring them tons of word-of-mouth fans (via internet or actual speech). the same goes for the insane amount of coverage by arcade fire from rabid fans or radio djs, along with the consistently high reviews made all around the web. in other words, labels are no longer ‘a necessary evil’

    i hope that made sense. :)

  25. chungkuo says:

    I’ve tried to pre-order a couple of times and it appears their credit card processor is fubared because it’s refused my purchase more than once. (And yes, there is plenty of money there)

  26. mconfoy says:

    Let’s hope they have the box set sold through the USA so we don’t get killed by the George Bush exchange rate.

  27. Jinx666 says:

    KHARI, Radiohead has acknowledged far and wide that their success was fledgling at best until they were featured an episode of Beavis-n-Butthead.
    This is (my guess) why they didn’t renew their contract with EMI, they were signed during the tail-end of the whole “Grunge” Exploit, and EMI did nothing to promote them.

    They are self-made despite their label, not because of it…during these years big labels signed any band that sounded “crunchy” trying to market them as “grunge”,only to find out that it wasn’t marketing that started this phenomenon, it was quality (of music), and word of mouth. A lot of bands died on majors due to the difficulty promoting them as a result. Radiohead just got lucky…one break combined with musical risk-taking does pay off on occasion…I wish music labels would just open up to understanding this concept, music would improve overall.

  28. bravo369 says:

    @boandmichele: If true then that’s great. I don’t know why more bands don’t do this. They can probably even sign with a label for a few years, get exposure, then not re-sign. I’m sure if Justin Timberlake or kanye west or fergie decided to do this then they would sell as much if not more albums. Of course if you don’t write your own music then not having a label could hurt you. Didn’t Prince do this sort of thing also?

  29. I’m waiting for the initial surge to die down and then I too plan on buying the album. I figure around ~$10 is what I’d like to pay for any album. The fact that so much more of that money goes to the BAND (sans the overhead of server/processing payments/et al) makes me very happy! Hooray for Thom and Co.

  30. nffcnnr says:

    So freakin’ cool. Radiohead gives the finger (or two) to the RIAA, major labels, over-priced brick-and mortar retailers and iTunes while showing everyone how to get your music out to fans sans middle-men. i’ll give ’em $10 for it based on principle, even though one could prolly find it for free in the blogosphere 12 minutes after the first d/l. Sorta reminds me of what Wilco did during their label dispute after Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was finished: After the recording sessions were complete, Reprise Records rejected the album and dismissed Wilco from the label. As part of a buy-out deal, Reprise gave Wilco the rights to the album for free. After streaming “Foxtrot” on its website, Wilco sold the album to Nonesuch Records in 2002. Both record labels are subsidiaries of Warner Music Group, leading one critic to say that the album showed “how screwed up the music business [was] in the early twenty-first century.”[1] The album was the most successful of Wilco’s career, selling over 590,000 copies. Wilco hasn’t stopped laughing since. The fans have proved big record labels wrong before, and they will again and again.

  31. nffcnnr says:

    oops, forgot to cite source for Wilco info:

  32. lestat730 says:

    Awesome idea, kind of like what has been doing with independant music albums. I love Magnatune and would love to see more artists ditch their labels and go this route. After all, the artist will probably make a ton of extra money by doing this. I mean what do record labels really do for artists anymore anyway?

  33. Spooty says:

    Well now, with the news of the other week, it didn’t turn out like you predicted, after all.
    Of course, they still made a few million $ off it, but IMO the idea was more a flop than not.