The question has been posed: “How does Radiohead plan to sit down when there are so many millions of people up their ass all at once on this one day?” The album In Rainbows has been universally praised, primarily as a return to form that everyone was hoping for from the band. The world of the internet is divided into the DD’s and the DC’s (the Did Download and the Don’t Cares), and it’s pretty clear as to whether you got what all the hype was about. Despite some minor difficulties (it was widely reported that some did not receive their download emails and that the servers were heavily strained), it has to be seen as a huge success. This reviewer, as previously reported, was completely taken aback. Literally, it’s the first record I’ve heard in a long time that I can’t stop listening to repeatedly. I have to wonder if it’s a trick, like a hypnosis technique layered into the record that makes me have to continue replaying it endlessly.
Now the hard road forward for everyone must begin. If you’re Radiohead, it’s going to be very difficult to top this feat; millions of people paying what they will to simultaneously download your album is a feat from which there is no turning back. This experiment in releasing is clearly going to prove a success on many levels. What would this success mean to the recording industry as a whole? Is this the beginning of self-run digital distribution by artists?
Radiohead has proven it can be done, though nobody knows precisely at what cost as of this writing. Will such ventures remain the cost-prohibitive rental agreements of the internet, or will the majors finally hear the siren’s call and make the sweeping changes this entire effort has forseen? With some bands selling their albums on jump drives and others moving to individualized ventures that allow them to maintain control, everyone is wondering what the final outcome will be.
But Radiohead must be smiling widely, knowing that people like me are sitting here noodling about their brave adventure, believing that not only have they seen and predicted the future, the future is right now merely because they said so.
Find an easy pillow, lads, and enjoy being in the catbird seat. Congratulations on making the great leap forward that everyone else was afraid to make.