Your marketing buzz wow factor is weaker with your most recent album, The King of Limbs, than your last, In Rainbows. You are the captains of change in the music industry. You’re the 2nd most viral band in the universe, behind those copy cats “Muse.” You’ve been rocking webcasts on the interwebs since Al Gore was Vice President. Any murmurs by Thom Yorke on radiohead.com send tsunami wave of conspiracy theories among your fanatics, on par with the obsessiveness of Lost fans. You changed the way everyone thinks about the record business by allowing fans to name their own price like mini Captain Kirks for In Rainbows. You are a music industry innovator. So, what have you come up with this time? A Newspaper Album? An album name that sounds like one of your competitors? Another random and shocking album release announcement? As a digital marketer, I’m bored, as a Radiohead fanatic I’m excited for the MUSIC.
ps As my ink below proves, I am somewhat of a fan.
Shocking release, again
Radiohead is infatuated with releasing albums and concert tickets with minimal warning and on thought-out dates. The King of Limbs was announced 5 days prior to its release, On Valentine's day and a day after the Grammies. Pre-sale tickets for Radiohead concerts are announced the day before, without a time, which has caused me many sleepless nights clicking a refresh button every 5 seconds. According to the golden rules of marketing, this wouldn’t be an effective way to maintain a happy audience, or is it? The dependable buzz that is created is short and condensed. This is the prime opportunity to cash in, not after weeks of MTV commercials and release date dropping during interviews with Joan Rivers. A week is an eternity for most Radiohead fans, causing things like an Official King of Limbs Tracklist Speculation Thread on a fan site. This works for Radiohead, but it is getting rather predictable.
Would you drive a Honda Elantra?
The title of the album also raises a few eyebrows. The King of Limbs? It’s puzzling that Radiohead would name their album something that is very close to a new alt-rock force, such as Kings of Leon. This is like Honda naming a car the “Honda Sorenzo”, or the “Honda Elantra.” It causes me to think of the similarities between the name and a competitor, rather than the mysterious meaning that must be behind the title. Radiohead is welcome to hire me for a competitive analysis on their next album title.
It’s not always about the “Paper”
In the past, they deliberately made the digital album free of charge which caused quite the commotion. They were the FIRST!#%!!! to do this, and everyone starred with amazement and wondered if they made more money by deleting the middleman and giving their users control. Well, it didn’t last long because they have reverted back to set prices for their products, not allowing users to control the price. However, they are trying to introduce another first by introducing something they call a Newspaper album, which comes with physical version of the music (CD and Vinyl) and a seemingly crap load of printed art. The art is the compelling part, as the volume, “Many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces…” leaves any Radiohead fan’s imagination to dream up a treasure chest of Radiohead artifacts, where the album can only be truly understood if you obtain this magical set. However, they need to know if the music sucks no one is going to care about the pile of Stanley Donwood origami that comes with it.
I hope Radiohead's underwhelming buzz package with this album, compared to the last, is a sign that they are focused more on pushing the limits of the music rather than the limits of the music industry.