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Radiohead_blog 

There, there Radiohead fans; new music is around the bend.

Bassist Colin Greenwood has written a rather eloquent essay for UK organization Index on Censorship, saying the band “have just finished another group of songs, and have begun to wonder about how to release them in a digital landscape that has changed again.”

Greenwood_boffo_new Greenwood goes on to address the band’s pay-what-you-want digital release of In Rainbows (2007), which ignited a firestorm of praise and paranoia in the music industry.

“This desire to use the technology was driven by distrust and frustration with trying to broadcast our music via traditional media, such as radio and television, ” Greenwood writes.

“Why go exclusively through such straitened formats when you could broadcast directly to people who are interested in you, in that moment?”

Back in 2003, after releasing six albums through EMI (which sold over twenty-five million copies), Radiohead decided to ditch the major record label and join the independent sector where, in October of 2007, they released their seventh studio album as a free download.

Inrainbows_covernew The move was hailed by critics and fans as “innovative” and “game-changing” while others, like U2 manager Paul McGuiness say the plan “backfired.”

“Even though it was available on their own website for no money at all,” McGuiness said. “If that was what you preferred to pay – 60 to 70 per cent of the people who downloaded the record stole it anyway even though it was available for free.”

Radiohead never released the figures from its In Rainbows experiment but some estimate the total U.S. profits at $10 million while others claim the revenue was in the $4 million range.

Radiohead_yorke_boffo “In terms of digital income, we’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together,” frontman Thom Yorke told Wired in 2007. “It’s partly due to the fact that EMI wasn’t giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff.”

Despite the group’s Web optimization (the band has also created a multitude of free webcasts), Greenwood remains skeptical of the medium as a whole.

“I’m unconvinced that the internet has replaced the club or the concert hall as a forum for people to share ideas and passions about music,” Greenwood writes. “Social networking models such as Twitter and foursquare are early efforts at this but have some way to go to emulate the ecosystem that labels…drew upon.”

Radiohead, who are still without an official label, are expected to release the new ‘group of songs’ in the coming months. As to how they will distribute the songs remains a mystery.

“I hope these partial impressions will help give some idea of the conversations we’ve been having,” Greenwood writes. “The ability to have a say in its release, through the new technologies, is the most empowering thing of all.”

 

Click here to read the essay in full.