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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