Radiohead album bets on fast release
Sat Oct 6, 2007 8:37pm BST
By Michael Erman
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The release of popular rock group Radiohead's new album next week is the latest wake-up call for a music industry still struggling to deal with the advent of digital music, experts say.
Normally a Radiohead release generates huge buzz as fans and critics alike wait to hear the latest musical direction of a band that has produced such varied offerings as the radio hit "High and Dry" to the experimental musings of "Kid A".
But the English band's seventh studio album "In Rainbows" is being closely watched for business reasons; the album is being released digitally on Wednesday by the band itself, just 10 days after the completion of recording and mixing.
And the price? Fans can pay what they want. The price listed at radiohead.com says simply: "IT'S UP TO YOU".
"This has been a long-brewing issue with artists," said Ted Cohen of music consulting firm TAG Strategic. "In a digital world where you can create something relatively quickly and get it out there immediately, why wait? Is there any overwhelming need to sit on something for three or four months?"
Typically a band of Radiohead's stature would be signed to a major recording label, which would wait several months before releasing the music to allow time for buzz to develop and plan a tour and marketing campaign.
Tony Bongiovi, a record producer who has been in the music business since the 1960s, said the fast turnarounds could hurt a music business that he believes is losing money as it becomes more singles-driven, rather than album-driven, in the age of iTunes and Internet file-sharing.
Some bands wouldn't work to complete an album if they could put out a good single right away, he said.