Radiohead has done it again. According to Pitchfork, Radiohead will be releasing their new album "The King of Limbs" on February 19th. That is this weekend! After revolutionizing the way music is consumed with In Rainbows, many were wondering how the band would be able to top that and if they would try to follow a similar distribution model. This time around, however, the band has scrapped the pay-what-you-want model, but they have kept up the deluxe packaging. Oddly enough, as a fan of Radiohead, I was not even really interested in what the package would be like or how many songs would make up "The King of Limbs". I was just totally floored that the album was coming out so soon.
This is the second album in a row that Radiohead have announced just before the date it was to be released. In an age where music is leaked months in advance and people can report news and rumors in a split second, it is amazing how Radiohead was able to keep this album under wraps. This is a band that has dedicated fans and yet for the second time they were able to completely blindside fans with news of a new album. At this point you may be asking yourself, “Why is this such a big deal?” Well, as I mentioned earlier, music is available almost instanteously and we have lost the feeling of waiting months and even years for a new album. Radiohead has somehow managed to do the impossible, or at least what is impossible for major labels, and that is stopping leaks and building buzz for their album outside of traditional channels.
Another reason something like this is so huge is that Radiohead isn’t just another small band looking for a way to grab people’s attention. They are a highly respected group that has also sold a significant amount of records, and they are only building their legacy by utilizing creative marketing techniques to further help their career. You would think with the success the band has had lately with their new approach to music distribution would rub off on record companies who are losing money at a rapid pace, but sadly that is not happening.
I will say that as a music journalist, it is a little disheartening to have an album come out of the blue like this. One of the many perks of writing about music is getting to listen to albums way in advance. However, the thrill of getting albums months before they are released wears off after awhile and it is refreshing to be totally surprised by an album. So for those who don’t listen to Radiohead, would you rather your favorite band talk their new album to death before it even comes out and sit around waiting for it to come out or have them release an album totally out of the blue? For those who do listen to Radiohead, what are your thoughts on their distribution system?