OK Computer: Radiohead makes digital music marketing look easy

August 27, 2009

British alternative-rock darlings, Radiohead, broke the mold for marketing digital music. The band’s progressive thinking spawned the October 2007 release of the first successful pay-what-you-want album, “In Rainbows,” which sold more copies than either of the band’s previous records, according to an article in Monday’s New York Times.

The group became disenchanted with the state of the record industry, leaving its EMI label and opting to release a new record on its own — digitally — and letting customers pay whatever sum they wanted for the music.

Now, as music piracy is on the rise, copying albums is so simple and digital music is essentially eroding the sale of CDs and vinyl, Radiohead is making unconventional declarations again. Front man Thom Yorke has announced that the band will no longer be creating cohesive concept albums, but instead will be recording singles — since that appears to be the preference of today’s music fan. (Nielsen SoundScan reports say that all U.S. album sales dropped 14 percent last year and while U.S. consumers bought more than 1 billion digital tracks, they only bought 65 million digital albums.)

As the Times noted, others in the music business can take notes from a band like Radiohead — always at the forefront of technology and continually using viral marketing to keep everyone abuzz. —Compiled by Amy Jacques for Tactics and The Strategist Online



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