Radiohead lets fans choose price of new album download

Radiohead is gambling on the goodwill of its fans by allowing them to choose how much they want to pay to download the band’s new album.

The album, In Rainbows, will be available for download several weeks before the CD hits the shops. The checkout screen includes a text box rather than a price, allowing the user to enter any amount that they feel is appropriate – even down to £0.00.

If this all seems a little baffling, then clicking the help icon simply explains that, “It’s up to you.” Clicking it again urges, “No, really, it’s up to you.”

In Rainbows, over two years in the making, will be released as a download on 10 October, but won’t be available physically until the 3rd December. The £40 record consists of the album on CD as well as on two vinyl discs, an extras CD containing further tracks, a lyric book and the right to download the digital version of the album. The appeal of such a pack to collectors should mean that physical sales will remain strong.

Radiohead split with its record label, EMI, in 2004. It’s an interesting experiment, the results of which could lend ammunition to the debate of whether music is overpriced, and whether record companies are unnecessary middlemen. The only question remaining is which side of the argument it will back up.

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