Thom Yorke: Radiohead's stunt was 'one-off'

Band won't offer unpriced downloads again

LONDON -- They turned the music sales model on its head, but indie rockers Radiohead won't be repeating their decision to let fans choose what to pay for their downloads, frontman Thom Yorke told The Hollywood Reporter.

"I think it was a one-off response to a particular situation," Yorke said of the band's downloading policy for the album "In Rainbows."

"It was one of those things where we were in the position of everyone asking us what we were going to do," he said. "I don't think it would have the same significance now anyway, if we chose to give something away again. It was a moment in time."

Radiohead's decision to allow fans to pay into the online equivalent of an honesty box for the album came shortly after the band walked away from troubled record label EMI, sparking a slew of comment about the future direction of the music industry and the dwindling revenue pot from CD sales.

The band has remained quiet about whether the experiment was a success, with many fans thought to have downloaded the album without paying anything at all. "In Rainbows" later was released as a CD.

But the groundbreaking move toward potentially free music has been adopted by a number of artists including Prince and Nine Inch Nails. On Monday, Coldplay began giving away its new single "Violet Hill" free of charge, resulting in the site crashing due to demand. (RELATED:Coldplay free download a hit)

Speaking as Radiohead was promoting its pro-social initiative with MTV against sex- and labor trafficking, Yorke said successful bands have new ways to communicate directly with fans.

"We are about that direct relationship (now) because we are big enough to establish that," he said.

Under the music broadcaster's EXIT (end exploitation and trafficking) campaign, MTV and Radiohead have jointly produced a video for the "In Rainbows" track "All I Need," which will premiere Thursday on all of MTV's channels and sites around the world. (Watch video at left.)

Yorke said the band linked with MTV to highlight such issues as child slavery, enforced servitude and sex trafficking because it was "about exploiting a situation while you have the chance."

"All power to MTV for taking this on because its obviously going to be difficult for them in terms of the advertisers," he said. "With the ('All I Need') video, their lawyers had to beg to make sure there wasn't a single white trainer with a logo on it because the implication would be a little too close. But the implication is still there."
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