In a surprise attack among well-liked Britons, Robert Smith dismissed the pay-what-you-like model that Radiohead used for In Rainbows.
Smith in an interview with MusicRadar:
The Radiohead experiment of paying what you want - I disagreed violently with that.
You can't allow other people to put a price on what you do, otherwise you don't consider what you do to have any value at all and that's nonsense.
If I put a value on my music and no one's prepared to pay that, then more fool me, but the idea that the value is created by the consumer is an idiot plan, it can't work.
Was it? Some thought it was a very deceptive plan, since they knew all along they were going to give the album a proper release, and many of their fans would of course go to the store to buy the album a second time, this time with packaging.
Singer-songwriter Ted Leo took issue with that, saying not only was the Radiohead plan viable, it was deceptive:
Honestly, I'm kind of pissed off at Radiohead for doing that because they're fucking multi-millionaires. So f--k them, you know, they can do whatever the f--k they want. It makes it harder for everybody else to try to figure out a workable idea. It's like a red herring or a cul-de-sac to me to go down that road. Now, if the whole world becomes 'you release your music for free' and playing live becomes the way that you get compensated for it, then so be it. But it's not at that stage right now, and the overhead for actually making a record with a label and putting it out still requires an investment, and nobody wants to lose money. Nobody wants to f--king wind up in the gutter in a year or two.
The Radiohead thing also was like a weird scam in my mind because they knew that they were going to be releasing the hard copies of the record eventually. It's bizarre man... Public Enemy's been doing it for years as well. And that's a whole different model, that's just like 'you know what, we're just giving our sh-t away on the Internet. You wanna come to the shows... and we're self-releasing our record, etcetera etcetera.' We're not quite in a position to be able to accommodate either model properly, like having big label support or doing things completely gratis. It'll shake out as it will and we'll roll with it.
Both Smith and Leo make valid points. Moreover, while the idea for In Rainbows was certainly big thinking, it never got the kind of scrutiny that price wars do in other retail sectors.