We’ve made a pretty big deal about Radiohead’s “pay what you want” scheme when they released In Rainbows. It was revolutionary, we declared. We were so proud of having a band show that maybe the major labels were inadequate, and that embracing digital distribution didn’t have to be hard.
It could change the music industry! Unless the group leading the way decided not to do it ever again. Radiohead has decided that it was a one-time thing.
Here’s what Thommy boy has to say
“Yes. It was a one-off in terms of a story. It was one of those things where we were in the position of everyone asking us what we were going to do. I don’t think it would have the same significance now anyway, if we chose to give something away again. It was a moment in time,” Yorke told the Hollywood Reporter.
I guess it’s important to note that no one really has accurate numbers on just how successful the initiative was. It was, undoubtedly, a PR coup. It made Radiohead seem like the mighty little band standing up and thumbing their noses at the big bad labels. But, if it wasn’t successful, it’s not exactly a sustainable model.
Ah well, I guess the grand experiment is over. On the plus side, other bands have started to follow suit, and I can only hope that people will keep experimenting with digital distribution as an affordable method of making music available.