Twenty years from now, the children of the world will look back and laugh at us. And they will be right to do so. They will be browsing wikipedia from the dashboard of their hover cars and read all about how a band put out an album in 2007, and there was seemingly a worldwide mandate that everyone have an opinion about the distribution method of said album. Preferably an opinion drenched in hyperbole.
In Rainbows is an excellent album. But this is not enough for people who write about music. It needs to be a physical symbol representing the obvious death of the record industry as we know it! Or it needs to held up to embody a band so disconnected from their beginnings that they are hurting fellow artists by allowing their music to be sold for a fraction of a typical album! In actuality, they are a band that realized every album is leaked early anymore, so they simply controlled the leak themselves.
From my perspective, there were two marketing aspects of In Rainbows particularly fascinating that I'd like to see more of (and neither involve payment plans.)The first was the timing of the actual announcement. Jonny Greenwood announced the album's completion on October 1, and it was available nine days later! I'm a big fan of the tight turnaround here, and which more bands could employ the sneak attack method of announcing release dates as close to said date as possible. Record labels would like us to believe that it's necessary to announce releases months in advance to secure all promotion and logistics can be put together, but this also drastically increases the certainty that the album will be leaked far earlier that it's released.
The second aspect of In Rainbows that I'd like to see more bands take notice of were the live webcasts leading up to release day (and afterward.) The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time was essentially a series of YouTube clips released before YouTube was invented. The In Rainbows sessions were relatively pedestrian by comparison, but seemed to be the perfect showcase for a band routinely accused of taking themselves too seriously. A few particular highlights from the broadcasts:
Morgan Freeman discovers what's in the box.
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place" with Helmet-Cams!
Covering Joy Division's "Ceremony"
Thom Yorke "re-brands" himself as "not miserable" while the white balance is set