Radiohead releases latest album without label, others to follow | iLounge News


Radiohead releases latest album without label, others to follow

English rock band Radiohead has released its latest album, In Rainbows, on its own through its website, echewing iTunes and other label-driven digital music services. While the band is selling a “discbox” set that includes the album on physical media as well as other extras, the digital download version, which comes as 10 DRM-free 160kbps MP3s, is available for as much or as little as the customer would like to spend, save for the £0.45 transaction fee. This label-free release comes at a time when another well-known artist, Nine Inch Nails, announced on its website that it is a “totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label.”

While Radiohead has never made their music available on iTunes, citing the fact that they prefer not to sell individual tracks and wanting whole album sales instead, Nine Inch Nails offers a large portion of its catalog on the service. Both artists, however, have had prior disputes with their labels, and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails made clear his band’s distaste with the major labels as he said on his website, “It gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as i see fit and appropriate.”

As both these major artists are announcing their split from the labels, reports are surfacing that other bands are anxious to follow suit. The Telegraph is reporting that Jamiroquai and Oasis, neither of which is signed to a recording contract, are considering following Radiohead’s lead and releasing work for free, or in a “pay what you want” manner. “They’ll all be thinking about it now,” said Stuart Clarke at Music Week. “Any big name that is out of contract such as Jamiroquai and Oasis will now see it as an option.”

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Big music labels are shaking.  This end is near!

Posted by Matt on October 10, 2007 at 1:57 PM (CDT)


Maybe I’m too close to this but could you have written this in a manner any more detached or droll? Seriously you’re boring the pants off of us while Radiohead’s going for the gullet.

Posted by Henry Casey on October 10, 2007 at 2:38 PM (CDT)


I disagree with the above comment.  The news article is fine.

Posted by tim on October 10, 2007 at 2:54 PM (CDT)


The article is well written in my opinion. The move by a few big names to break away from the record labels is huge. However, whether or not many other major artists will follow Radiohead’s lead is yet to be seen. I think Mr. Starett wrote the article with that in mind.

Posted by RNB on October 10, 2007 at 3:31 PM (CDT)


Maybe iLounge could add some WordArt to the story to spruce it up for Mr. Casey.

Posted by Ben on October 10, 2007 at 4:22 PM (CDT)


What? You wanted hyperbole?

I don’t get how this article is “droll.”

As for “deteched”—Well, a good journalist is SUPPOSED to be detached and neutral.

Posted by Wilder_K_Wight on October 10, 2007 at 4:23 PM (CDT)


These IMHO, are not “major artists”.

Posted by Scott on October 10, 2007 at 5:03 PM (CDT)


I downloaded my copy of Radiohead’s album (legally) this morning.  Great album, not to mention the fact that what they’re doing distribution-wise is freakin’ awesome. 

I just wish the quality was higher than 160… But it’s a start.

Posted by illegalattempt on October 10, 2007 at 5:50 PM (CDT)


Scott - are you kidding?  How many millions of sales do you need to have to qualify as major?  All the artists mentioned in the article have been or are still hugely popular - when you mention Oasis or Jamiroquai you are not talking about some unknown to anyone beyond their fan base indie band.

Posted by dimmer on October 10, 2007 at 6:22 PM (CDT)


To Henry Casey:

Let me see if I can do this justice for you.

In a moment of epic bombast, the rueful Britons who teamed together to form the group Radiohead cast a penetrating stone at the establishment on Wednesday and made their latest album available only by download from the band’s web site.

The news sent ripples of discord and uncertainty across the western hemisphere, and several major retailers reportedly closed. A music store manager who asked not to be identified—he said he feared for his life—said that Radiohead’s audacity could have far-reaching repercussions.

“I fully expect every Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart in America to close down one by one,” he said while throwing loaves of white bread and gallons of whole milk into a duffel bag. “There’s no turning back after this. Thom Yorke and his buddies just set in motion the wheels of apocalypse.”

A number of music executives committed suicide after the announcement, some in very symbolic ways. One such individual, an aging major-label pioneer, was said to have slit his wrists with the sharpened edge of a vinyl copy of the seminal “Frampton Comes Alive.” His exit note merely read, “I’ll see you in Hell, Radiohead.”

Steve Jobs declared that the popular iTunes media store would be temporarily closed and restyled so it will offer “mostly children’s books narrated by Vin Scully and possibly some scores from Russ Meyer films.” All popular music, however, will be removed from the store, and due to this, Apple is offering “all early iPod adopters” a chance to return the now-obsolete device in exchange for refurbished Newtons.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on October 10, 2007 at 6:28 PM (CDT)


Hmm… now won’t it be awesome if some famous act offers a major donation to cover Jammie’s fine? That’d be a definite slap in the face to the “establishment”, now wouldn’t it?

Posted by Laer on October 11, 2007 at 12:36 AM (CDT)


Flippy Hambone:  Thanks for giving me a great laugh today with your ‘cover’ of the earlier story! 
Much appreciated :-)

Posted by lostkiwi on October 11, 2007 at 9:01 AM (CDT)


None of this is new though, that’s what I don’t understand about the excitement.  Sure it’s great that Radiohead did this, but they’re seven years behind.

The Smashing Pumpkins released their (then) last album free to the internet as a middle finger to their record label after they broke up, and that was in 2000.  Prince released his last album free through The Mail on Sunday newspaper in the UK this summer.

Even before them bands like The Grateful Dead encouraged the recording and trading of their concerts by their fans.

Yes it puts the labels in a very uncomfortable position where if a band is unsigned and just starting out they’re better off recording and releasing their first few albums on their own and selling them at shows and through iTunes, and the major artists like U2, Oasis, Radiohead can afford to cut out the labels altogether and just do this.

Labels in the future will probably end up more like fancy PR firms, since the marketing is what they really are needed for, because that’s where it gets expensive.

So yes, it’s a sign of things to come, but anyone who is claiming that this is anything sudden, new or astonishing just has not been paying attention.

Posted by Jeffery Simpson on October 11, 2007 at 11:28 AM (CDT)


Hey, I downloaded my copy of the Radiohead’s “in rainbows”. I was wondering if anyone else who downloaded it could tell me what they did for album artwork? I tried a couple different options; first, the black and white picture of them on their website; and second, the different rainbow backgrounds used on the download instruction pages. I’d love to hear what others have done.

Posted by urbanslaughter on October 11, 2007 at 9:50 PM (CDT)


urbanslaughter, try

Posted by Munkey on October 12, 2007 at 12:35 PM (CDT)


Official album covers available at although until they posted it, I just made my own using the background of the In Rainbows site and the graphic boxes on the welcome page…

Posted by deek on October 13, 2007 at 12:20 AM (CDT)


Munkey and deek, Thanks a lot! This is much better now!

Posted by urbanslaughter on October 13, 2007 at 12:25 AM (CDT)


if only every artist that could do this, would do this.  I don’t see how it could be bad for anybody except the labels.  And I can live with that.

Posted by matt on October 15, 2007 at 10:22 AM (CDT)

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