In December 2007, Thom Yorke explained Radiohead’s rationale for releasing their then-new album, In Rainbows, with just 10 days’ warning and a “pay what you like” price tag. It was, quaintly, an unheard-of way of doing things back then. “We were trying to avoid that whole game of who gets in first with the reviews,” he told David Byrne in a Wired interview. “These days there’s so much paper to fill, or digital paper to fill, that whoever writes the first few things gets cut and pasted. Whoever gets their opinion in first has all that power.” Radiohead didn’t want to defer to the whims of grumpy reviewers. They wanted the power.
This stealth release method led to what was, at that time, unusual: a communal listening experience across the globe.