"What's it worth to you?" -- thoughts on music online from a big rock band.
Pay What You Want for This Article
by Jon Pareles, The New York Times, Dec. 9 2007
[Pareles recounts Radiohead losing an online password and writing away for a new one.] "They wrote back," Mr. Greenwood said, "'Why don't you pay us what you think it's worth?'"
Well, Radiohead was asking for it. Those are the exact terms on which the band is selling the downloadable version of "In Rainbows": Buyers can pay zero or whatever they please up to £99.99 (about $212) for the album in MP3 form.
[They've been independent since their last contract expired.] Signing a new major-label contract "would have killed us straight off," he added. "Money makes you numb, as M.I.A. wrote. I mean, it's tempting to have someone say to you, 'You will never have to worry about money ever again,' but no matter how much money someone gives you — what, you're not going to spend it? You're not going to find stupid ways to get rid of it? Of course you are. It's like building roads and expecting there to be less traffic."
Radiohead tested songs in public, knowing they would be bootlegged immediately. "The first time we ever did 'All I Need,' boom! It was up on YouTube," Mr. Yorke said. "I think it's fantastic. The instant you finish something, you're really excited about it, you're really proud of it, you hope someone's heard it, and then, by God, they have. It's O.K. because it's on a phone or a video recorder. It's a bogus recording, but the spirit of the song is there, and that's good. At that stage that's all you need to worry about."
Mr. Yorke worked on many of the songs in the Rose and Crown. "I sit there, on the way in, because it's a really nice little table," he said, pointing. "And then I get out my scraps of paper and I line them up. I need to put them into my book because they're just scraps of paper, and I'm going to lose them unless I do it. So am I writing here? Probably. I don't know yet. I'm just collating information. This is a nice, relaxing thing to do, and it also keeps your mind tuned in to the whole thing. And you see things you didn't know."