The release of music for free online is certainly no new thing, with many bands finding success through file-sharing. That file-sharing kills the record industry is also nothing new, however Radiohead recently made it official by showing that it’s possible to make and reach millions without either.

A screenshot from Radiohead’s In Rainbows website

Free of a binding contract and able to do as they please, English band Radiohead decided to ditch the middle-man and do things on their own. Two months before any traditional CD release (which is also only available through their website), a download was made available and people were given the option to pay whatever they wanted for the new album.

A Lack of Oxygen From My Life Support

As the hearts of the record labels stopped, thousands upon thousands placed orders for the download. With the option of having it for absolutely nothing, a survey by The Times newspaper found that people paid around 4 pounds for the album anyway (about $10).

And whilst the industry spends millions on DRM technology and goes about suing every day people (for the obscene amount of $220,000 for sharing 22 songs), 1.2 million people are estimated to have given the band upwards of $10 million on the first day of release.

Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s obvious that your local garage band isn’t going to get the same response to their new demo, but it’s still worrying signs for an industry that has long lost its relevance. We believe that music is returning to experience—people don’t want bad music forced down their throats at over-inflated prices. They want good music, and they want the freedom to pay what they think the music is worth without being made a criminal in the process.

You’ve heard it before—when the cost of distributing a product reaches zero—experience is where the real value lies. The music industry prefers to complain, whine and sue. Radiohead have taken the industry by the scruff of the neck and shown them that creativity and innovation pays off.