Radiohead has just done its second all-digital album release, a day earlier than expected.
The band was one of the first popular acts to experiment with a digital-only release. In October 2007, Radiohead released “In Rainbows” as an download-only album and allowed customers to set their own prices. The band bypassed Apple’s iTunes and other traditional digital stores, and instead sold it directly, using a private network from PacketExchange to help keep the bits flowing.
The experiment worked: Radiohead said it made more money from the download — even though a third of the people who downloaded it paid nothing — than it did from the sales of its previous album, 2003’s “Hail to the Thief.” The experiment also generated a lot of hype for the eventual release of “In Rainbows” on CD and other formats — the album eventually sold more than 3 million copies, which is a huge amount in this age of declining CD sales.
This time, “The King of Limbs” comes in two formats — a digital-only version that costs $9.99 for the MP3 or $14.00 for the better-quality WAV files, or a “newspaper” format that lets users download the album now and then receive a package including LPs and artwork via mail a few weeks later.
Once again, Radiohead is bypassing iTunes, which allows the band to keep more money from each sale.
Here’s the first video from the album, for the song “Lotus Flower”: