Radiohead are currently without a record contract, having fulfilled their six-album contract with EMI in 2004. As such, they have independently released their new album, In Rainbows, as an MP3 download for which you can name your own price.
That’s right, you can enter any price and that’s what you’ll pay. They are also taking pre-orders for a Discbox (presently £40 with free postage) which includes the new album on CD and vinyl, an extra CD containing new songs, digital photos, and artwork, and booklets containing lyrics and artwork. The Discbox also includes the MP3 download.
Clearly this model is a little extreme for record companies to adopt, and any band without the recognition of Radiohead who tries it is likely to starve, but I think it makes the point that the current model is outdated and needs to be seriously reconsidered if the record industry is to survive. If Radiohead’s experiment is successful it will send a strong message that music fans are not happy with the status quo. If you have a few pounds to spare, or not, go cast your own vote.