New Dawn in the Record Business

radiohead inrainbowsAs a long time fan I was excited and hopeful their open-market digital launch of ‘In Rainbows’ would prove a technical success in ease-of-use and consumer experience. They have really delivered! Yesterday, I registered at Radiohead’s site and chose to pay £ 4 or ~$0.90 per track to purchase a zip file containing the 10 new tracks. For comparison’s sake, subscription services Rhapsody charges $0.89/track and Zune charges $0.79/track for digital downloads within their libraries. My activation email arrived overnight and I downloaded the 48mb zip file early this morning in just a few seconds. The tracks are DRM free and distributed at above average sound quality 160 kbps files.

This is quite an accomplishment given the ongoing battles between the recording industry, musicians, consumers and digital music services to create a secure and financially sound ecosystem for digital music distribution. Radiohead seem to have a leg up in the competition as they are free of their EMI contract and can create and distribute content at will. While this model will likely prove challenging to up and coming artists without an established global fan base, it is refreshing to see artists of this caliber pushing the boundaries of music commerce. Look for The Charlatans, Jamiroquai and Nine Inch Nails to follow suit with future releases.