So, Radiohead’s In Rainbows was released as a real CD last week, coming after last Fall’s download-only, “pay your own price” experiment made major headlines. Did people actually buy the album in stores, three months after you could download it for free? Yes, and no. In Rainbows did debut on the top of the Billboard album charts for this week. So, yay Radiohead and yay consumers. But, the album’s number-one spot was earned with a mere 122,000 copies sold.
Granted, the weeks after Christmas are pretty bad for retail sales, especially for entertainment. Still, that’s pretty poor compared to their last album, Hail to the Thief, which debuted at No. 3 in 2003, with sales over 300,000 units. In the end, it’s all relative, and I think it’s rather impressive that the best-selling CD of the week was actually made available months ago, essentially for free. Did the Radiohead experiment work? I think early reports would suggest that it did.