After basking in adulation from music lovers and RIAA haters for being enlightened poster children of the new way of doing business in the music industry, Radiohead has pulled an about-face that feels like a betrayal and a dirty cop-out: They're releasing In Rainbows on CD in January through one of the Big Four (all of whom they're in negotiations with right now), and it might contain extra material not found in the digital version. Yeah, it was a cheap marketing ploy, according to their management: "If we didn't believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn't do what we are doing." Update: As lots of you have pointed out, drowned out by the hooplah over the disruptive potential of their direct downloading plan was the fact they'd been planning on dropping the album in CD form in '08 the entire time. As Idolator's editor had guessed, the shitty 160kbps files should've been a tipoff something else was in the works besides the $80 feel-good bonus-laden package. Which, had fans known a regular CD release is coming out, would they have dropped that much coin? Some, sure, but all? And what about the poor bastards that paid full price (or more) for the middling quality MP3s?
What makes the move so goddamn dirty is that it was complete subterfuge—had they said they were planning a CD release in the first place it wouldn't be so bad. Instead, they cheated fans and rode a sky-high wave of good press while planning to do the same old, same old the entire time. There's no way I'm buying their album now, in any form. It would've nonetheless made for a more interesting experiment if they'd foregone the traditional channels altogether, a bold break rather than a toe in the water. [Financial Times via Idolator]