Radiohead, who until recently were the only major band besides the Beatles and Led Zeppelin not to offer their music for digital download, just signed a deal with online music retailer 7digital. For years, Radiohead has shunned iTunes because the band wanted their albums sold as a whole and not broken apart into individual songs. In a compromise that is unique in the age of music downloads, 7digital has agreed to honor the band's wish.
Radiohead isn’t fooling anybody, said Simon Jary in PC Advisor. The band members have “apparently held out because they want the public to buy their whole albums and not ignore the crappier songs that occasionally make it past the producer.” And what’s with their “sudden aversion to non-album purchases”? The band has always released singles. Even more confusing is the fact that lead-singer Thom Yorke is “fond of shouting about global warming—and yet has stuck with the planet-sapping CD format instead of the practically carbon-neutral download.”
The band’s conviction over keeping their albums intact makes perfect sense, said Katherine Hannaford in TechDigest.tv, and it’s admirable. “An artist’s album is their artwork, and to sell just tiny pieces of it would be akin to ripping strips of a painting off for the stingy public who don’t want to pay full price for the whole masterpiece.” On top of that, their albums are being sold for £6.99 each on 7digital—when you break that down by individual songs, it’s cheaper than iTunes.
There has to be more to this 7digital agreement than meets the eye, said FutureMusic.com. “The company is obviously offering the bands special deals and perhaps even upfront advances.” But the band could be shooting itself in the foot with this. Money’s nice and everything, but has Radiohead sold a piece of itself to 7digital to get this deal?