You might not be surprised to know that I’m a huge Radiohead fan. Just take a look at this blog. My blogging name was adapted from a Radiohead B-side called “I Am Citizen Insane” and the blog tagline “I Might Be Wrong” is a track from their 2001 album Amnesiac. Some days I cannot decide if they or The Smiths should take the title of Greatest Band Ever, but usually it’s them. When OK Computer (greatest album ever made) came out in 1997 I listened to it twice every day for something like three months after its release date: on the way to work and again on the way home (look, if you were temping at Barclays Bank for £6.50 an hour you’d think it was a good idea too). To this day, if you look in my ears with an otoscope you will see this burnt into my auditory canal.
Well, it’s a big day for Radiohead fans tomorrow. The first new material to be released in over four years and under such unusual circumstances. Suffice to say I have ordered mine. I didn’t have to face the “how much should I pay” quandary because, fan-boy that I am, I shelled out £40 for the boxed set version. It’s all very well living in an age of virtual music, but I still like to physically own the asset where possible. Am I showing my age? Do I sound like one of those boring vinyl-enthusiasts who clung to the “romance” of the twelve inch format throughout the CD era? Probably.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens. Personally I’ll be surprised if their servers can cope with the demand, which is bound to be overwhelming. It will also be interesting to see how they do in terms of revenue, given that you can, if you so wish, download the album for nothing. Most commentators speculate that they will be far better off than distributing through a record label. The point is, if you really don’t want to pay for music you already have that option anyway, through the countless file sharing sites that already exist. The record companies, naturally, are terrified – a good sign, if ever there was one. I doubt anyone has an iota of sympathy for them after years of being ripped off (£13.99 for a new album? Ha!). May this be the start of something new.
More importantly, let’s hope the new album’s good as well.