Radiohead dropped a bomb on the music industry last night, announcing their new album In Rainbows. What's the big deal? Well, first of all, it'll be released in a mere 9 days, catching everyone off guard (it was expected sometime next year) and keeping the tracks from leaking to the web. Secondly, you'll be able to download the album from their official site for any price you want to pay. Yes, it's pay what you want, including free. Really.If you want a physical copy, you'll need to drop a whopping $82 on the "discbox," which includes both CD and vinyl versions of the album, plus an additional CD/vinyl of more new songs, with the CD also including digital pictures and other such goodies. It also comes with a big photo/art book. That version also comes with the digital download, as the physical copy won't drop 'til December 3rd (the delay to help prevent leaks, presumably).
What Radiohead is essentially doing is making piracy useless for their album. It won't leak, so you can't get it early by pirating. And, assuming they'll be selling high-quality MP3s as they do with all their other albums, there's no reason to avoid DRM by pirating. And, since it's essentially free if that's what you think it's worth, you won't save any money by pirating. By making this the best way to get the album, chances are good that people will actually, you know, pay for it, even though they don't have to. And since this is OMG Radiohead, you know boatloads of people are going to drop $82 on the collectors-item discbox, which is sure to help them make their ducats.