So Radiohead finally dropped their album, A Moon Shaped Pool, five years after their last album release, The King Of Limbs. Did you hear about it? Of course you did.
Because ironically, Radiohead disappeared from the vast cybernet altogether. In the run up to the lead single release, ‘Burn The Witch’, Radiohead’s Twitter went blank, as did their Facebook and website: complete white-out. Literally. (Which, we should note, the 1975 did last year to announce their second album, so it wasn’t quite the pioneering marketing approach they perhaps hoped for.)
A few days later they broke radio silence with a repetitive clip of a stop-animation bird tweeting in a tree via Instagram, posted to their other socials and website, before the actual music video was released on YouTube, later appearing on major streaming and download services. Yes, you heard right: ‘Burn The Witch’ was debuted on YouTube, which Thom Yorke compared last year to Nazis “stealing the art of other countries” during WWII, before being streamed on the platform he dubbed “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse” (Spotify). The release was inspired by both British children’s TV classic Chigley and folk-horror masterpiece The Wicker Man, depicting a disquietingly idyllic town, which turns out to be much less innocent than it initially appears.
After the second single, ‘Daydreaming’, was released in the same manner, the whole album appeared on 8th May at 7pm, only available to stream on Apple Music and Tidal (not Spotify), with downloads available from iTunes, Amazon and the band’s own website. On their site, Radiohead are selling digital downloads for £9-13 (depending on the format), scaling up to a whopping £60 special-edition box set shipped in September that includes CDs, vinyl, a download, extra tracks and a piece of master tape from a previous recording session alongside a 32-page book of artwork.
Radiohead, ever the fans of ostentatious box sets and ever the haters of freemium, will surely cash in on this one; XL Recordings has announced reissues of their back catalogue, too (having acquired it all from Parlophone). Going dark on social media isn’t anything new (see The 1975), but it does provide a refreshing feel to some of the more in-your-face campaigns today (yes, we mean you, YACHT); a deft use of the calm before a big release storm.