Radiohead Launches New Album – 100% Web, Baby!
Tonight the band Radiohead once again set a new standard for album releases in the digital era, by unexpectedly releasing its latest album The King of Limbs a day early. Not only that, everything about this release was done via the Web and independent of a record label.
Along with the early release of the digital version tonight, Radiohead released the music video of its first single off the album, ‘Lotus Flower’ – on, you guessed it, YouTube. While the new album doesn’t have the pay-what-you-like innovation of its 2007 release, In Rainbows, it is notable that Radiohead went 100% online this time. The announcement on Twitter and a special eCommerce website, the digital download, the video on YouTube. Plus, the social media reaction is astounding.
It’s all happened so fast, too. Earlier this week, Radiohead announced on Twitter that it would be releasing its 8th album via digital download on Saturday 19th February. A physical, self-described ‘Newspaper Album’ is to be released in May, featuring vinyl records, a CD and lots of art work. That announcement, itself unexpected, built anticipation – which was whipped into an online frenzy tonight when the digital version was launched a day early.
If this was a startup product launch, you’d have to call it masterful. Which is exactly what Radiohead’s new album release is. It’s like they’ve just released a highly anticipated new app. How times have changed in the music industry. No longer are music fans camping outside record stores waiting for the double CD launch of the new Guns n’ Roses album at exactly midnight. Nowadays the artist can do everything independent of record labels and stores, announce it on Twitter and launch the first video on YouTube.
As I write this, music publications like All Songs Considered are breathlessly live-blogging the new album (“# 4 songs in #kingoflimbs feels like a skipping heart, thrilling and unsettling.” @allsongs).
As for me, I’m kind of regretting ordering the larger WAV version – it’s taking so damn long to download! ;)
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