The end of the rainbow: Radiohead’s online experiment ends soon

If you haven’t yet downloaded your very own copy of In Rainbows, Radiohead’s experiment in online music sales, at the price you choose, you have until Monday, Dec. 10, to do so. After Monday, the album will only be available via more mainstream outlets – i.e., iTunes and meatspace music stores.


Earlier this week, the band announced the end of its pay-what-you-want experiment on its blog.

Hello Everyone,

The download area that is “In Rainbows” will be shutting its doors on the 10th December 2007.

A big thank you to everyone who came and downloaded the music. It’s been the most positive thing we’ve done and we hope you shared the experience with others.

The discbox will still be available from the w.a.s.t.e store here until they have all gone. We then have no plans to make further stock.

For those of you who wish to buy In Rainbows in the usual way, it will be available on CD/Vinyl and download from traditional outlets from the 31st December 2007.

The record will be released by TBD Records in North America and XL Recordings for the rest of the world.

Thanks for everything.

Back in October, Radiohead made In Rainbows, the band’s seventh studio album, available for download to fans who could pay as much or as little as they wanted. I personally shelled out two pounds and 50 pence (around $5 and change) for my copy. I was tempted to download it for free, and that would have been perfectly fine with Radiohead, but I think I would have been racked with guilt every time I listened.

I downloaded In Ranibows not because I’m a huge fan of this band, but more because I wanted to participate in an interesting marketing experiment. (The album isn’t bad, though. I’ve paid much more than five bucks for worse.) Although Radiohead “is not the first act to try what one of its managers, Chris Hufford, calls ‘virtual busking,'” as this New York Times article points out, “it’s the first one that can easily fill arenas whenever it tours.”

Will the pay-what-you-want business model work for other musicians? Or for other organizations? Another New York Times article ponders the possibilities.

The Radiohead payment scheme, whatever the final tally, worked for Radiohead. (It may be portable; Paste, a magazine devoted to indie rock, ran a monthlong pay-what-you-want subscription deal in the wake of “In Rainbows.”) And yet at least some aspects of the old model may still prove useful. The CD of “In Rainbows” — an actual, tactile, old-economy product — will be available in record stores on Jan. 1. And EMI, the band’s spurned label, has proved resourceful itself, quickly assembling a Radiohead boxed set in time for the holidays, happily riding on publicity it didn’t pay a thing to create.

Now playing: Radiohead – All I Need
via FoxyTunes


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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