Buried deep inside an Irish Times story about musicians surviving in the Internet age is a revelation that thankfully never became reality: Radiohead’s own managers recommended the band “split up” as the group struggled to record what eventually became In Rainbows. That’s what Brian Message, whose Courtyard Management helps oversee the band, admitted, saying that though the songs were written, the band had spent the better part of two years unable to capture the songs in the studio.
“Radiohead are a once in a generation act,” Message said. “But you have to be honest if it’s not working. You have to have passion about what you do.” The band ignored their managers’ recommendations and instead completed work on In Rainbows, which was not only critically acclaimed immediately after its surprise release, but also helped revolutionized how music is distributed in the Internet age thanks to its “pay-what-you-want” scheme, which Message reiterates was “the best thing for that band at that time.”
“We realized that, by using the Internet for the delivery of the album, we could reach 173 countries and it would cost us less than three cents a copy for distribution,” Message told the Irish Times. “Two of my partners in the management company came up with the idea of pay what you like. Both the band and us were really excited about doing something brave and a bit wacky.”
While most fans opted to pay nothing for the album, and more people downloaded In Rainbows for free illegally rather than legally, the album still entered the charts at Number One when it was officially released on January 1st, 2008 and the band still raked in the cash during their sold-out tour.