Quality Rainbows Are Not For Free

Sleep was escaping me at 4AM this morning, and as I laid there wondering what the hell I should do for the next 3 hours, it hit me: the In Rainbows digital download should be waiting for me in my in box! I jumped out of bed, ran into the office, opened my email, and there it was. I pulled it down, cranked it up, and have been taking it in ever since.

This album definitely does not disappoint, although I would have been a bit bummed had I not purchased the 40GBP super deeeeeluxe discbox double LP/CD set (arriving in my physical mailbox around December 3rd, awwwwwww yeah!) + download, and had opted to go the digital download only route instead. You see, Radiohead did something tricky with the digi dl only option. In essence, they said, “Hey music fan, yeah you the one who doesn’t think that you should have to pay for music. Come to our website and buy our new music for what you think it’s worth. Even if that amount is ZERO.” I’m sure this pay what you want for the download only strategy resulted in a very large number of people going to the Radiohead website, putting the album in their cart, typing in 0.00 and checking out. Well guess what? If you went digi-dl only, all you got from Radiohead was music, and at non-CD quality. Sure, it cost nothing and is DRM free, but it’s encoded at only 160 kbps and contains no artwork.

Now I know that those who paid for digi download only and/or who care about MP3 encoding bitrates will BitTorrent the album once the CD is made available and a higher quality version is leaked, but I’m sure it will have made many of them stop and think about the value of music, if only for a second. In our day and age that’s not something that people are compelled to do that often, if ever. So if you’re one of those few souls who did pay more than zero for the digi download and are currently feeling a bit burned by the band, look deeper and try to appreciate the thought provoking nature of this “experiment” and how it has the potential to invoke some real change in how artists approach the merchandising of their products with little to no involvement from a major label.

And if you just can’t wait for the Stanley Donwood artwork that NME reported on, point yourself over to HICKSDESIGN’s Cover art for In Rainbows blog entry and take your pick from one of the many fan inspired designs. Something for pretty much everyone.