Sunday, September 30, 2007

Another Radiohead Hoax?

Last week a site called posted cryptic coded messages about the forthcoming Radiohead album, but the band quickly announced that the site was not sanctioned. Today Billboard magazine reported that the band's new record, titled "In Rainbows", will be available on October 10th as a deluxe vinyl and CD set, or as digital download. And apparently fans will determine how much they pay for the download. "It's up to you" a disclaimer on the site reads.

There were tell-tale signs that last week's posting was not legitimate (including a font and design similar to that of their 2000 release "Kid A") but this site (while a bit clunky, and why not buy directly from is linked to directly from the band's site. It is also set-up to take your credit card number, so if it's not legitimate it moves from net hoax to web fraud.

Radiohead's contract with EMI expired in 2005 and they have not renewed, making them one of the biggest unsigned bands working. It has long been suggested that musicians at this stage in their career wouldn't require a major label but few suspected a business model that so completely departs from the existing one (iTunes and most major labels are regularly battling it out for pricing control: iTunes maintains that all songs should be 99 cents and the labels want the ability to charge more for hit songs and also to bundle tracks together as digital albums and EPs).

But perhaps it's not the huge gamble it appears to be. With the music industry relying less on album sales and more on concert ticket sales (Forbes reported yesterday that the Stones earned 88 million touring last year) and Radiohead shows selling out in seconds, this model could prove lucrative for the group.


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