Radiohead shuns iTunes, sells new album online direct

U.K. band Radiohead will let fans choose how much they want pay for downloads of its next album, a new approach to online music sales.

UK band Radiohead will let fans choose how much they want to pay for downloads of its next album.

The message "It's up to you" appears when clicking on a question mark next to the price of a download for their seventh album, "In Rainbows," due out Oct. 10. The band began accepting pre-orders on its Web site Sunday.

A completed transaction showed the album can be bought for as little as £.01 (AU$.02), plus a £.45 charge for using a credit or debit card.

Radiohead has been among the few hold outs -- the Beatles included -- whose songs are not available for purchase on Apple's iTunes Music Store, which sells songs in the U.K. for £.79 with DRM (digital rights management) technology and £.99 without DRM. Albums cost an average of £7.99.

For Radiohead, a top-selling act for about 15 years, the decision poses little risk to the band members' personal fortunes. But it could prove to be an interesting case study in how successful a group can be in compelling fans to shun illegal downloads and pay what they think the band deserves.

Radiohead is also taking advance orders for physical copies of the album to another financial extreme, but stuffing it full of extras to endear fans. The group's "discbox" for "In Rainbows" will contain a two-record set, a CD of the album as well as an another enhanced CD with other songs, artwork and photographs. It will come in hardback-book style packaging with a slip case. The price is £40, and the set will ship around Dec. 3, the Web site said.

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Jeremy Kirk

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