An open letter to Radiohead

This post is really just a polite way of telling you guys to get off your asses and get me your new record.

Dear Radiohead,

Hi guys. Long time fan, first time writer. Congrats on all your success, being the vanguard of the modern indie-alternative movement and all. I’ve got all your records, even some of the import-only EPs. Hard to believe it’s been ten years since OK Computer, eh? That record must have changed your guys’ lives almost as much as it changed mine!

It’s been a while, though. Hail to the Thief was a pretty great, if not the classic that its predecessors were, but it’s been over four years since its release. Now, I appreciate that sometimes you need to take your time with these things, and I know that it must be harder for all five of you to get together now that you’ve got wives and have spawned offspring and all. But considering that you guys are my generation’s Beatles, and the original Beatles released Rubber Soul through Abbey Road in less than four years, it seems like you dudes are slacking a bit.

But I had my forgiveness all ready to go for when the elusive “Radiohead LP7” was released later this year. There was a lot to be excited about: brief song samples on your blog, live bootlegs of tracks like the never-recorded fan-favourite “Nude,” and the intoxicating buzz of anticipation. This was going to be your moment to blow us all out of the water, show all these young upstarts who’ve succeeded in your wake just how it’s really done.

…and then I read this:

The band’s PR confirmed to us that they have finished recording the follow-up to 2003’s Hail To The Thief, but added: “It isn’t out until 2008.” No news was given for the delay, but it’s believed the band want to iron out a new record deal before its release, and to give time for their next record company to market the album.

“Iron out a new record deal?” Guys, you’ve know that Hail to the Thief was your last album for EMI since you released the damn thing – why the hell hasn’t your management been ironing this out during the past four years? And don’t tell me that you needed to wait until the album was finish. Puh-leaze. You’re RADIOHEAD. You’re the most important band of your generation. You can sell out arenas anywhere in the world. YOU PRINT MONEY. It’s not exactly a hard sell, with or without a finished record.

And “market the album”? Seriously? Are there people out there who haven’t made up their mind about whether or not they like Radiohead? And besides, this is the Internet age – it shouldn’t take months to come up with a marketing plan for an album from a band with as slavishly devoted a following as Radiohead. I’m pretty sure people will find out about it one way or another.

And you guys should know better than anyone what happens to albums that are finished and then not released for months and months – THEY LEAK. Remember Hail to the Thief, how it ended up online months before its release date in unmastered form? You of all bands should be doing everything in your power to prevent such a thing from happening again, and you’re opening the door wide open to it.

Maybe you should take some cues from your contemporaries. Stars made their upcoming record In Our Bedroom After the War available for sale digitally mere days after it was mastered (the traditional version comes out September 25). Given that all albums leak these days, the band realized that forcing fans to choose between listening to a leaked version and waiting until the release date wasn’t fair, and thus offered them a legal way to hear the album and support the band. This is smart. Neil Young is smart too; last year’s Living With War was rush-released to stores and the Internet less than a month after being recorded, the urgency of the project helping its hype significantly. Also smart (if a bit crazy): Prince. Realizing that his bread and butter (like most artists these days) is touring, he gave away 3 million copies of his latest album Planet Earth through the NEWSPAPER.

Now Radiohead, I’m not saying that you guys need to do exactly what these folks are doing. All that I’m saying is that there’s a lot of innovative ways that bands are distributing their music these days, and there’s no reason why innovative lads like you should be stuck with a finished album that your fans won’t get to hear for another 4-6 months. So please, put your five British heads together and come up with something. Because waiting until 2008 to hear 2007’s album of the year hurts.




4 responses to “An open letter to Radiohead

  1. Rivers, you are definitely not one of the ‘people out there.’ How have you lived this long without knowing at least one Radiohead song? Everybody knows ‘Creep’ at the very least. Well not everybody…

  2. Great rant, Mr. McNutt. I, too, have been impatiently waiting all this time, only to be devastated by the aforementioned delay.

    Thom had mentioned putting up EPs online and doing lots of singles and all that stuff, and now they’re right back where they were with basically every album since The Bends. Lots of hype, lots of people wanting to hear the record, and them taking months to eventually release it and promote it.

    @uphillflow: I think what Ryan was leaning towards in his post is that anyone who is going to buy the new Radiohead record right away already knows and loves the band. The promotion aspect could help garner a few more fans, but only AFTER the albums been released and reviewed, and after some singles or videos have been released, etc.

    But seriously, run out and buy all their albums. Post haste.

  3. Pingback: …in which McNutt thanks Radiohead for taking his advice « McNutt Against the Music·

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