Yorke: Radiohead's 'Rainbows' Strategy Was A 'One-Off'
It was a pivotal moment for the music industry which many thought sounded the death knell for recorded music sales, but Radiohead won't be repeating their decision to let fans choose what to pay for tIt was a pivotal moment for the music industry which many thought sounded the death knell for recorded music sales, but Radiohead won't be repeating their decision to let fans choose what to pay for their downloads, frontman Thom Yorke told the Hollywood Reporter.
"I think it was a one-off response to a particular situation," Yorke said of the band's decision last October to let viewers pay what they wanted for digital downloads of their album "In Rainbows."
"Yes. It was a one-off in terms of a story. It was one of those things where we were in the position of everyone asking us what we were going to do. I don't think it would have the same significance now anyway, if we chose to give something away again. It was a moment in time."
Radiohead's decision to allow fans to pay into the online equivalent of an honesty box for the album came shortly after they walked away from troubled record label EMI, sparking acres of comment about the future direction of the music industry and the dwindling revenue pot from CD sales.
The band has remained quiet about whether the experiment was a success, with many fans thought to have downloaded the album without paying anything at all. "In Rainbows" was later released conventionally as a CD.
But the groundbreaking move towards potentially free music has been adopted by a number of artists including Prince and Nine Inch Nails. Most recently Coldplay said Monday (April 28) that they would give away their new single "Violet Hill" free of charge, resulting in the site crashing due to demand.
Speaking as Radiohead were promoting their pro-social anti sex and labor trafficking initiative with MTV, Yorke said that successful bands had new ways to communicate directly with fans.
"We are about that direct relationship (now) because we are big enough to establish that."
Under the music broadcaster's EXIT (end exploitation and trafficking) campaign, MTV and Radiohead have jointly produced a video for "In Rainbows" track "All I Need" which will premiere on all MTV's channels and sites globally on May 1.
Yorke said the band had linked with MTV to highlight such issues as child slavery, enforced servitude and sex trafficking because it was "about exploiting a situation while you have the chance."
"All power to MTV for taking this on because its obviously going to be difficult for them in terms of the advertisers," he said. "If you talk about slave labour, then the issue of cheap goods from the East is all about that.
With the [All I Need] video their lawyers had to beg to make sure there wasn't a single white [sneaker] with a logo on it because the implication would be a little too close. But the implication is still there," he concluded.
"If [MTV] are able to break the taboo of enslavement and put it onto the agenda then its a good thing. If they get people to think in terms of the profits we make in the West because of cheap labor, then that's a good thing."
MTV vice chairman Bill Roedy said the initiative would raise awareness.
"Trafficking is a crime which violates the basic rights of its victims ... we endeavor to support and advocate these rights -- and empower our audience -- through initiatives like MTV EXIT and other MTV projects."