From left, Thom Yorke; huge pile of money.Photo illustration: Nasty Little Man (Radiohead)
Radiohead may have given away free MP3s of their new album on their Website last October, but the allure of liner notes and plastic jewel cases was too much for some fans who, since its release on CD last Tuesday, purchased 116,000 copies of In Rainbows, making it the No. 1 album in America this week. This is a significant drop off from the 300,000 that Hail to the Thief sold in its first week in 2003, but no matter — as you may recall, the band offered digital copies at InRainbows.com with an innovative pay-what-you-want price tag, alongside $82 box sets that some analysts speculate netted them “a whole crapload” of money, none of which they had to share with a record company. (Radiohead aren’t saying how much they made, but last week Thom Yorke told the BBC, “It’s been a really nice surprise and we’ve done really well out of it,” probably while lighting a cigar with a Picasso.).
Though the band has referred to Rainbows’ original online debut as “an experiment,” the album’s physical release (through ATO Records) was probably the real test — to see if there was still some money in circulation that didn’t already belong to Radiohead. Turns out there was!
Somewhere Over In Rainbows [Hits Daily Double]
Radiohead: ‘We’ve done really well out of ‘In Rainbows” [NME]