I don’t owe Radiohead anything. However, I am compelled to respond to the ridiculous claims made by various media publications concerning the ethics of Radiohead’s digital release of In Rainbows. This article by USA Today suggests that Radiohead was dishonest in that they did not disclose that the current release was an MP3 of lower quality than the inevitable physical copy or the “standard MP3.” At only 160 kbps for God’s sake!
People are upset because Radiohead not only gets the money from the sales of the CD and Discbox, but they also get payed for their online release. Hmmm…I am not quite sure where the dilemma is on this one. I am an avid CD shopper. When I tell people this they say, “Wow…You still have CDs,” and I mean a lot of people say this to me. The people who want to have the music now can. The people who want to wait can, or they can pay nothing now and still get the CD (legally or illegally). Look in your collection and be honest. How many burned discs do you have? How long have you gone without paying for music? People seem to have forgotten that music producers owe us nothing, and we owe them nothing.
Fred Mills of HARP online makes the astute point, “Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood essentially stated the other day that it was never Radiohead’s intention to initiate some revolutionary new model of music distribution (labels have been selling downloads for some time, duh) or even to give away its music as part of some elaborate marketing scheme, but simply to prevent it from leaking out to the public prior to the official release of the physical discbox.”
These news articles and blogs have created a false problem. It was well known that a CD was to be released after the download date and that it was of inferior quality.
This quote from American Madness is a lie:
“Next up, the January release: How do you release an album online, let people pay what they want for it and then a few days later mention that you will be selling the official album in January? Radiohead is in for a double payday with this. As I said, shady.”
If people would have been paying attention they might not be so upset.
Consider the following articles:
Pitchfork: “Readiohead Album Coming Out as Regular CD Too” 10/01/07
Pitchfork: “Radiohead’s In Rainbows Primers on XFM Radio” 10/09/07
Yeah the title “Readiohead Album Coming Out as Regular CD Too” is slightly ambiguous. If you prefer not to view the links provided, I’ll directly cite them as well:
“Okay people! Take a couple deep breaths, count to 10, switch the caps lock off, clean up the triple espresso you just spit all over the computer screen, and check this: that new Radiohead album, In Rainbows? The one that the world knew practically zilch about 24 hours ago? The one that drops digitally (DRM-free, no less!) in nine days, for a price of your own choosing? The one that’s also coming out in a deluxe “discbox” in December? Well, it’s also coming out in good, old fashioned CD format early next year.”
And that was written October 1st, 2007!
Also consider the fact that Mr. Edge’s controversial comments about the intent of the download were made the week prior to the release of In Rainbows. He said, “If we didn’t believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn’t do what we are doing.” This is troubling for bloggers who claim they were duped into buying a free record, only to hear that a CD was on the way after the fact. Radiohead knew their record would be leaked, burned, and distributed by November, so they stayed ahead of the game.
If you truly believe this was a scheme set to maximize profits, you are missing the point. Anyone who complains that Radiohead is getting a “double payday” has bought into a fictitious controversy.
Good luck with that people.
I’ll be listening to Reckoner.