As pretty much everyone knows by now, Radiohead released their most recent album online as a Pay-What-You-Want download. It got huge publicity because of the novelty of the approach. The second high-profile album that gets released that way will get almost as much publicity. Sometime in early February the frontpage of all the tabloids will contain photos of scantily clad Spice Girls next to the headline:
Following fast in the footsteps of Radiohead come the ever-innovative Spice Girls whose new album, Looking Forward, features live versions of all their Number One singles. The new collection will be available for two weeks exclusively from the Girls’ website before it hits the shops on CD, and just as with Radiohead’s In Rainbows, fans of Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Scary and Baby will be allowed ‘Pay-What-They-Want’ during that two weeks. As well as the nine live tracks, Looking Forward will feature two entirely new songs, including the 2007 Christmas Number One, Buying Stuff at The Supermarket For Christmas (Without You).
However, the third album released on a Pay-What-You-Want basis will garner almost no free publicity whatsoever. Things get old quickly these days. And the question is; without the free publicity can this distribution strategy work? I really hope so, but only time will tell.
PS: In Rainbows is an excellent album. Not that you’d know that from the acres of news-print on the subject.