Completely Ridiculous Radiohead Music Experiment

Aug 6, 2008
Updated • Dec 4, 2012
Music, Music and Video

Am I alone in thinking these new shock horror reports about Radioheads’ online music experiment are completely ridiculous?

PaidContent today picked up on a story by Big Champaign, a company which monitors file sharing activity. Mashable then joined in with an article entitled “Free wasn’t cheap enough for Radiohead fans” and All things Digital even put up a story about it.

Mashable had this to say on the subject:

“Free isn’t cheap enough for us, apparently. When a band like Radiohead comes out with an album, puts it up on a website for us, and gets more press coverage than just about any album release in recent memory, and says “Hey, pay us for it if you want to,“  we still feel the need to “steal it” off Bittorrent.”

I have no intention of going into the ethics of downloading music, I just found this such a completely pointless report. He continues with this:

“In Rainbows torrent downloads peaked on the first day data was collected, October 27, at 400,000 - what Page and Garland call “a bloody big number”. How big? More than double the top torrent through March and May (Panic At The Disco’s Pretty Odd) got in a whole week (ie. 10 times Panic’s daily average).”

What these reports all seem to forget is that Radiohead is a big band. One of the biggest in the world in fact, but contrast Panic at the Disco is not. Would you expect more people to be interested in Radiohead?

Also most importantly does anyone remember Radiohead’s download server’s crashing due to the amount of demand? Even when it was operating it sure was pretty damn slow to download the album, how does it not make sense that people would just use Bittorrent to get the album.

Considering Radiohead was giving the album for free, you could say it was even beneficial to download from bittorrent seeing as it would save the bandwidth for Radiohead.

I personally would be extremely hesitant to mouth off and tell article just about sums it up perfectly:

“andrew, why don’t you let anyone on the web take your column and post it free, and not get paid by the ft, either…since you love free love and all”


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  1. Josh said on August 8, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Yea exactly guy…

  2. Martin said on August 8, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Some users may have also decided to not pay for the album and picked the faster and hassle free way of downloading the album.

  3. Rarst said on August 8, 2008 at 12:03 am

    >it’s one less person exposed to the “pay if you want” form.

    Some people use torrent out of habit. I can imagine person thinkings “hm, they got this out on their site but it’s going to be faster from my favorite tracker” easily.

    >People downloading from the torrents don’t even have the option to pay if they want.

    They could put it on torrents with whatever description and links.

  4. Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins said on August 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I guess I should have been more explicit in my article – for everyone who doesn’t download via the website and goes to the torrents, it’s one less person exposed to the “pay if you want” form. People downloading from the torrents don’t even have the option to pay if they want.

    That’s the point.

  5. Josh said on August 7, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Yea, it was a good stunt from radiohead.

    Reading my article I wasn’t too coherent, but my point was:

    Bittorent services are faster and easier then the radiohead website, unless you where going to pay for the album there was no point downloading from the official site.

    Also I think one dodgy thing about it all that Radiohead did was not making it clear how they where releasing the whole thing. Some people paid a lot for a crappy download when it was being released in cd form anyway.

    The best solution I think is a free 192kbs download. Paid 256kbs + potential discount on the hard copy album when its released.

    However one thing people seem to forget is that NO band has become as big as Radiohead or NiN without a music label to begin with. Theyre not ALL bad.

  6. GRTerrero said on August 6, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Radiohead can do what it bloody hell wants with its music.

    I downloaded it. I’m a Radiohead fan. Have been for years. After years of filling their coffers, it was a good thing.

  7. unruled said on August 6, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    its not as if everyone out there knew it was available from their website.. they just check where they always check.

    also, best of all, this was a great word of mouth PR stunt for radiohead — something which is not quantifiable in a direct manner.

    I remember hearing sales for the album were pretty high regardless of the free online release, which says something.

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