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1 October, 2007

No really, it's up to you

The new Radiohead album, 'In Rainbows', is due out on 10 October.  Sort-of.

It's available in two formats:

  • A 'discbox' will contain a standard CD with the expected artwork and lyric booklets, plus a second CD of bonus material (songs & artwork), plus the album on 2 LPs, all in a hardback book & slipcase.
    This will cost £40 – if the inclusion of LPs and lavish packaging wasn't a clue, this is pretty much for fans only. Discboxes will be individually manufactured and won't be despatched until December, but purchasers will automatically receive the second option in the mean time:
  • A download will contain the album tracks, without bonus material. I haven't been able to determine the file format, but I'd guess it's .mp3 rather than something lossless like .flac.
    This will cost... whatever you want to pay. Yes, really: you could obtain the latest Radiohead album for 1p (plus the basic online transaction cost, 45p).
The slightly odd thing is that there's no intermediate option: the standard CD-and-booklet-in-a-jewel-case package won't be available until an unspecified point next year, rumoured to be March.
[Update 20/11/07: the release date is 31 December, 2007.]

It'd be easy to dismiss this as a marketing gimmick, and if it is, it's worked – of my normal news sources, the Guardian, the BBC and BoingBoing have mentioned it prominently.
Yet it is noteworthy that an acknowledged major-league band, supposedly one of those sustaining the mainstream record industry, is releasing an album via its own website and without the involvement of a record label, and treating potential purchasers as responsible individuals rather than as potential thieves.

Personally, I'm undecided. I suspect I'll pay a token amount for a download, merely as a stopgap until the CD is released properly. Then again, I've only listened to each of the post-'OK Computer' albums a handful of times, so I might pay a fair amount for a download and skip the CD.
I suppose I could just wait for the standard CD to appear at Amazon; I'm in no hurry.

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