Radiohead, their album and Bittorrent

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 20, 2007
Updated • May 17, 2014
File Sharing, Music and Video

There is a lot of coverage going on at the moment on various sites that all report that the new Radiohead album In Rainbows that is exclusively available on an official In Rainbows website is spreading like any other major music album on Bittorrent.

The main issue that the reporting sites have is that listeners may pay the price they like to purchase the album on the In Rainbows website which can be anything from $0 to hundreds of Dollars for the album plus a small service charge.

The Music Industry will most likely spring on the bandwagon and announce that even if they would offer the music for free it would be pirated. To an extent that is likely true. But this case is different. Some technical problems during the first days made it impossible for many users to download the music at all.

I know some who would have liked to listen to the music before purchasing it which is not possible on the Radiohead website. Many turned to Bittorrent to grab the In Rainbows album from there because of the load on the Radiohead website.

Several users went through the registration process on the In Rainbows website only to find out that the download would fail.

The problem here was that it was not possible to reuse the download link, all that they could do was to contact support who probably got so many calls and emails the first day that users who actually paid for the album decided to get the album from Bittorrent alternatively.

Listeners without a Credit Card or Paypal account have no means of acquiring the album legally at the moment. Everyone who does not know about the website In Rainbows probably wonders why the album is not in stores but on Torrent sites.

I don't want to excuse sharing this album though. This band deserves the support and users should grab it from the official website if possible. I especially can't say that it helped Radiohead when users downloaded the album from Bittorrent instead of the Radiohead website.

First, if you download the album from Bittorrent you also spread it there which means that you helped spreading the album to thousands of users. Second, the calculation surely has a chapter for upselling stuff to users that registered on the official website. It can be anything from news of new albums, tours, merchandise and maybe even free stuff.

Radiohead should learn from the launch issues and at least offer options to listen to the album before making the purchase, create a user friendly checkout process, use download links that are valid for 24 hours, offer different Kbits and formats and other payment options as well.

I can't see that this is going to be a model for all the big bands out there. Imagine you have to register to each band's website in order to download and buy the latest album. There has to be some major platform in the future that offers those downloads and functionality that was missing in this case.


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  1. Mr_Y_Not said on November 10, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    RE: to al:
    In my oppinion, the albums from 4-6 were basically electronic-based. (My favorites were 3,4, and now 7) The first 3 and the 7th seem to have beautiful lyrics, at least in my oppinion. The sound effects in the background help make the music diverse. Radiohead is NOT alike most other rock bands such as Green Day and Billy Talent, etc., especially with the amount of creativity they put into it. In my oppinion, these guys know what they’re doing with the sounds, unlike some other bands who think the equipment is what its all about.

  2. AL said on October 20, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    This may be off topic, but I seriously don’t get why Radiohead’s album’s got that much buzz. I’ve downloaded and listend to it. Not 1 track was decent enough for me not to hit the delete button on the spot and before I finis the track! I don’t get their style, it’s like an a immature group experimenting with weird sounds and shit. However, the only Radiohead song I can get myself to listen to is their old classic “Creep”.

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