Radiohead are back with a new album, The King of Limbs, and a development of the original stunt for their last album, In Rainbows, which was for sale on a ‘pay what you can afford’ basis.
Excitement has been amping up and up since the band announced the early digital download release of the album to the point where the media is saturated with information – the Guardian have been running live updates about it and even the Daily Mail ran a long piece about these ‘Industry Rebels‘ shunning their record label. Radiohead have certainly played this well.
The Mail are right to call them rebels – Radiohead have stepped out of the major label industry by selling the album online, although they will be releasing it in traditional formats with indie label XL later in the year. But by releasing it at the height of the bloated awards season and making headlines just as effectively as ever, they have proved that they have the emotional intelligence to connect with both media and, more importantly, their fan base. It is almost certainly no coincidence that they released it at the same time as the Brit Awards – it certainly smacks of a two fingered salute to the industry.
This is a band at the height of their ability to stir up conversation, who are bending the art of the stunt out of its traditional shapes and using it to their own ends.
Now, let’s hope the album is as good as their ability to stir up conversation. If it’s as good or better than In Rainbows it will only compound their ability to sell albums in any format in future.