Radiohead Goes to the Store

    December 13, 2007

We’ve covered the Radiohead experiment since it started. And as of Monday, the experiment is over. It did give them a lot of press, I’m not so sure it gave them a lot of cash. Normally artists aren’t the best at distribution and marketing, which is why there are middlemen. In every industry I’ve seen this usually serves both sides well.

Just three months after they started the experiment, Radiohead is going back to the traditional way of selling albums – in stores. The band let their fans decide what to pay for their new album. Some fans thought free was a great price. Radiohead didn’t give out numbers, though comScore took a stab at it. They estimated that 62 percent of those who downloaded In Rainbows didn’t pay for it.

It seems like they could sell the album on the site (which could use a redesign of the shopping process) and create a model where you had to pay a set price. But for now there are no downloads.

The music industry keeps taking one punch after another as they try to figure out something that works. Free downloads are plentiful and just like Web 2.0 business models, ad-supported seems to be the buzz. But is it sustainable?

Too bad they skipped Christmas for in-store sales. The CD/vinyl and download won’t be at stores until December 31st. No official word on if they’ll be back on iTunes. You can buy the Discbox online.

What is known (according to Wikipedia) is that they aren’t signing back on with EMI. They will go with indie labels XL Recordings in the UK and TBD Records in North America.