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Radiohead Joins a Growing List of Bands Now Shunning the Major Labels

Radiohead Joins a Growing List of Bands Now Shunning the Major Labels

Radiohead has decided to allow its fans to pay whatever they want for its latest album.

October 14, 2007 —

Radiohead, one of the most successful rock bands of the last ten years, has decided to self-release its latest album "In Rainbows," and allow fans to pay whatever they choose for the right to download it. It's a decidedly discordant note for the major record labels, who find themselves fighting for survival in a digital age that allows bands to find success without radio or television exposure. Because of developments like file-sharing and internet radio, the sway that major labels once had in gaining exposure for up-and-coming artists is less and less relevant, and many bands are now content to raise revenue almost exclusively from touring and merchandise.

The decision by Radiohead comes on the heels of similar moves by Prince and The Charlatans, whose manager recently advocated "killing the record companies." So why all the animosity for the record labels? For artists, the industry has long been considered inefficient and an impedement to creativity. Fans may have even more reason to root for their demise:

  • In 2002, the world's five largest record labels were found guilty of colluding to keep cd prices artificially high.
  • Sony was found to be hiding dangerous "rootkit" software on its CDs, which would automatically install itself on any computer playing the CD. It recently settled a class action lawsuit over the illegality of such a practice.
  • The RIAA, the major labels' combined front against file-sharing, has now sued over 30,000 people for illegally downloading music. The most recent judgement in their favor was for over $220,000.

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