Rock band Radiohead's new album "In Rainbows" debuted in the No. 1 spot in record sales on Billboard charts this week despite being available for free on the band's website for months. The down side: only 122,000 copies were sold—good but not great—and the release topped the charts in part because there have been few other new offerings in this traditionally slow post-holiday stretch.
The strong debut would seem to contradict major labels' contention that digital downloads hurt sales. Radiohead signed with an independent label after its contract with Capitol/EMI was up, allowing the band to offer its music in any format. The group decided to let fans download "In Rainbows" and pay any price they felt it was worth—including nothing.