By Angela Monaghan
Last Updated: 4:51pm BST 01/10/2007
Radiohead, the internationally renowned band, has taken the unusual step of telling fans that they can pay as much or as little as they like for the band's new album In Rainbows.
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Radiohead Hail to the Thief album cover
In a break from industry tradition the UK band famous for hits including Creep, Paranoid Android and Karma Police, has told fans "it's up to you" what they pay to digitally download the album.
This isn't the first time that an artist has opted to charge nothing for its album, but the move is significant because Radiohead remains one of the biggest bands in the world.
Radiohead is free to sell its album directly from its official website because it is no longer tied to a record label. So far the album is only available to pre-order from the website, where it can be downloaded on release on October 10.
While loyal fans are likely to want to pay the band something, customers could opt to pay as little 45p - the credit card handling fee.
The album is also available separately as part of a £40 box-set which includes the album on CD, two vinyl records, a CD with additional songs, photos, artwork and lyrics.
It is Radiohead's first album since Hail to the Thief, which was released in 2003 after which the band's contract with EMI/Capitol expired.
It is likely that many of its millions of die-hard fans will be unable to resist buying the box-set, available in December, while Radiohead will not be required to share its profits with either a record label or shops.
Radiohead could even benefit from those who ignore the box set and choose to pay nothing to download the album from Radiohead's online shop, where they will be required to register their details and therefore become targets for future marketing campaigns.
Free albums also drive demand for live tours, which translate to pound signs for the artists behind them. A great example of this is Prince, who in July gave away his album 3121 for free in the UK through the Daily Mail.
He subsequently announced 21 tour dates in London, all of which sold out.
Radiohead has the financial welly and is sufficiently well-known to be confident enough that the move is a risk worth taking, but it might also become an answer for those lesser known bands that struggle to be signed by a record label, or are reluctant to share their profits.