(Disclaimer: I’m a huge Radiohead fan. Sue me.)
I was watching a bit of television on New Year’s Eve shortly before the fireworks display here in Chicago when I stumbled across Radiohead’s Scotch Mist concert on Current TV. (It’s a great show, by the way. Check it out.) It was clear to me then that Radiohead, already secure of its place in rock history, is continuing to blaze new trails for music artists while rewarding its fans…and the television channel’s socially conscious viewers.
A few months ago, the band released a pay-what-you-want, downloadble version of its new album, In Rainbows, on its Web site. Sales numbers for the album actually were pretty good, despite the fact 62% of downloaders didn’t pay. According to ComScore, Radiohead made an average of $2.26 per album, but a whopping $6 from people who paid for the album. (I wrote a news brief about this in the 12/15 issue of Marketing News.)
By doing this, Radiohead proved that good, established bands don’t need major labels to make money. In a Wired interview with Talking Head David Byrne, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said that labels inhibit not only the artistic process, but only really allow bands to make money from touring.
And through its concert on Current, Radiohead proved once again it doesn’t need backing to create tremendous buzz; just a love for music and respect for listeners.