by Ian Newman on Feb.23, 2011
Up until the release of Hail to the Thief in 2003 Radiohead were under contract with EMI. At the end of the contract Thom Yorke was quoted as saying “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘Fuck you’ to this decaying business model.” Their next release, in 2007 was In Rainbows, which was initially released on the band’s website with no set price. Visitors were encouraged to pay whatever amount they thought was appropriate. Part of the explanation for this strategy was that each of the last four albums had been leaked before the official release date, so the band resolved to leak it themselves. The form of the album (to borrow Joyelle’s formulation) is the leak. Morning Mr Magpie, the second track on The King of Limbs, is a meditation on the art of reproduction in the digital age, a consideration of the value of music in the age of the leak.