Radiohead: Pioneers of the New Music Industry

On In Rainbows : a business watershed
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2007 5:00 PM CST
Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs onstage in this undated file photo.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Born of a “stoned philosophical conversation about the value of music,” Radiohead’s voluntary-pay download arrangement for its In Rainbows album has, the New York Times argues, made 2007 a watershed for the music industry. This year saw the creation of the music star free agent, as Radiohead and others turned down major-label contracts, becoming economically viable independents.

The In Rainbows deal can also be seen as the tipping point for the long-building trend towards music’s online distribution, as a hugely influential band used the immediacy of internet technology to directly engage their fans. That immediacy also shaped the creation of In Rainbows as the new songs were disseminated via bootleg concert video clips on YouTube a year before the album was recorded, prompting the band to re-consider them in the studio.