branding radiohead

these guys never cease to amaze me. as a perfectly tuned musical enemble, they can’t be beat, and as a marketing monster, they defy odds by visiting and revisting the practice of keeping a brand marketable by delivering new, fresh and innovative product.  defy odds? yes, perhaps.  for they do it with the release of every new piece of music, ditching the comfort of the past as they go — the very comfort that  ensures brand recognition, embracement, and, eventually, nostalgia. 

but that really, isn’t the entire story.  radiohead, you see, turn the concept on its ear.  the brand concept that they market is that the comfort of the radiohead brand is in its change.  they’ve set up a notion that you will probably never catch up to the change of the radiohead brand, but that as long as you are being intrigued and challenged by the brand, you will keep returning.

their first album was misunderstood as britpop, their second, a seemingly british answer to grunge.  their third album took an abrupt turn to modern prog-rock, and their fourth — veering away from the accepted norm of pop sensibility — was decidedly art meets electronica. 

their entire discography follows this pathless path.

and then there are the twists and turns of the release of their music:  their latest record, in rainbows, being released without a record label, being sold from their website in a “pay what you please” format.  it divided the musical community completely, some calling it a brave new way and the other side calling it the assured success of a multi-million dollar earning rock band.

now they are at it again.  fans have known for awhile that the band has been in the studio.  they are eager for a new album.

two weeks ago, however, frontman thom yorke announced that the band was done making albums.  sure, they would keep making music, but people shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for what form that music would show up in.

a few days before this, they release a single honouring the death of britain’s last surviving world war I vet, harry patch — they had recently finished recording it before patch had passed away.  a few days later a “leaked” copy of another new radiohead song swarms the internet.

apparently they’ve found a new way of releasing their studio products.

my curioisty will keep me tuning in.


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