OK, so just in case any of you haven't yet seen the news, Radiohead's new album is being released next Wednesday. They just announced it on Sunday. The format's a pretty bold experiment - in 2003, upon the release of Hail to the Thief, their contract with EMI ended. Rather than signing with another label, they're going to distribute the album themselves, digitally. Even more interestingly, the price is... whatever you want to pay them for it. You can sign up now. There's a 65p administration charge, and then you can name your own price. Anywhere from zero to £99.99. This is, I think, immensely cool. The downloads will be DRM free, there's no middleman, no iTunes, no record company, no one. And it'll prove that people are willing to pay for their music, even if they can get it for nothing, given a sensible option. I'm just totally impressed with the whole idea, and y'all should go order, right now
But, there's a downside: firstly, the store is in UK money only. This isn't a huge hassle (although the rest of the world may curse the credit card charges they'll incur), except there's a special edition coming out. 2 heavyweight LPs, a CD of the album, and an additional CD of other material, plus booklets and pictures. I have the last 2 limited edition CDs Radiohead did, and I'd quite like this one, too. And here is where the UK money problem comes in: the exchange rate is bad right now (thank you, Greenspan and Bernanke, you morons, your short term fixes will have long term consequences), and the limited version has a fixed price. £40 is not totally unreasonable if you live in the UK. But the $85 that this translates into for us US customers, unfortunately, is totally unreasonable. Radiohead really ought to have found an international distributor for this stuff. I'm also kind of hacked off that this is the only CD version that's going to be available. Convenient or not, mp3s are lossy, the quality just isn't as good as CDs. I'd quite like a high quality version of the audio, and right now that means Windows Media Lossless (sorry, Apple fans) or a solid CD. My preference is to have something I can hold in my hand. So: for many reasons, I must
own the limited edition, and it's too damn expensive. Even worse, they're making the limited edition to order, so if I don't order now, I may simply never get a copy. Argh!
Here's where the request to the UK folks comes in: I actually still have some UK money. Just not quite enough. If someone could pay £15 into my UK bank account for me, I'd be sorted. So, if anyone's interested, I'm going to suggest an exchange - does anyone want anything from the US that I can buy and send over to them that they'd otherwise be unable to lay their hands on? Jamie, for one thing, I could get a copy of Empire of Ivory
, the newest Temeraire book (not released in the UK 'til mid December, I think) that would match the rest of your set into the mail Friday, if you want. Plus whatever else, up to about $30-$35. Any takers? Please?
Eh, it's kind of frustrating. I've known there's been this album coming for months, and given more than the week and a half's warning they've given people, I'd have been able to work something out for the limited edition without additional panic. The download idea is a really bold experiment (and a great PR move, too), and should also expose a lot of people who haven't heard the band to their music (even if half the people who sign up pay nothing, sales of their other albums ought to make up for it), and I'd expect most people are going to pay £5-£10 for the album. If you're out to show that people want
to pay for music, that people want
to be honest, this is the way to do it, and hats off to Radiohead for trying. But damn, I could have done with a US distributor for the limited edition.
Not Radiohead. Yet.