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A2 Media Studies Music: Industry & Audience Radiohead: The King of Limbs (2011)

Radiohead kol version

Oct 28, 2014




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A2Media Studies

Music: Industry & Audience

Radiohead: The King of Limbs (2011)

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Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums, percussion) and Ed O'Brien (guitar, backing vocals). Key Point: Classic ‘Rock’ Line-up/Structure – Instruments/Male


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History - Early Years

The group, initially named On a Friday, recorded a series of demo tapes which caught the ear of EMI in 1991 during the wave of ‘grunge’ fever. The label promptly signed the group to a six-album deal but requested they changed their name. Thus, in 1992, On a Friday became Radiohead. Key point: Major Label Long-term Deal

‘Pablo Honey’: Released 1993

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History – Pre - ‘The King Of Limbs’

Six albums into their career and on the verge of their seventh, Radiohead finally found themselves in a position they hadn't been in since before Pablo Honey, as the band's record contract with EMI expired. "If the major labels had their shit together about the Internet… They've been sticking their heads in the sand over new technology," Yorke told Rolling Stone in 2000 as the record industry struggled to adapt to Napster and the digital medium. "They reaped some pretty bad karma doing that, and now they're paying the consequences." Free of their record contract, the stage was set for the band's riskiest masterstroke to date with the 2007 release of In Rainbows.

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History – Revolutionising the Music Industry

In a move that would revolutionise how artists would distribute their music, Radiohead offered up In Rainbows by allowing people to pay what they wanted for a digital copy of the album, thus letting the fans decide what the music was worth to them. The theory was, since many of their albums had leaked prior to release they'd leak the complete album themselves digitally through their official website. The majority opted to download In Rainbows for free, but the band later revealed that the In Rainbows experiment made more money than the release of their previous albums. Key point: Breaking free of the major labels and embracing digital technology

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Radiohead: The King of Limbs (2011)

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Now – Continuing the ‘Experiment’

The King of Limbs was announced on Valentine's Day and self-released on 18 February 2011 through the band's website. It was followed by a physical retail release on CD and vinyl formats in March, and a special "newspaper album" edition in May.

The album sold an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 copies through Radiohead's website; the retail edition debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 in the United States, with first-week sales of 69,000 copies

In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number seven on the UK Albums Chart, selling 33,469 copies in its first week.

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• Self-released (Now out of contract with


• 8th Release (well established artist)

• ‘Physical’ CD and 12”Vinyl releases on 28th March 2011

• Initially released as a download only MP3 or WAV

- 18th Feb 2011

• The physical editions were released through the band'sTicker Tape imprint on XL in the UK

• a wider digital release viaAWAL, and a special

“newspaper” edition on 9th May 2011

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Physical releases (vinyl/CD) sales have declined due to advances in digital technology and the availability for audiences to download

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Radiohead - website for official announcements of releases/tours/news – fan message board

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Established Fanbase Will buy exclusive products/releases (fan appeal) Aware of releases through social media – fansites Take little notice of reviews? Want to own all physical releases = Vinyl/CD/DVD

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Promotion‘Lotus Flower’ – Video (low budget) analyse/comment

Live: From The Basement – TV Exclusive (SkyArts)

Key points:Appeal/Audience – Niche?


No major label involvement – But still achieved success!

Low key promotion via internet/website

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ReviewsKey points:

Further promotion from positive reviews

News of the CD release will encourage fans to ‘tweet’ spreading the information

Fans will alsogive their own opinions and responses via posts & forums

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ReviewsKey points:

Negative reviews and comments encourage fans to engage in further discussion and debate

Hardcore fans will have to defend their ‘band’ with responses via web posts, twitter and forums

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Radiohead did not support The King Of Limbs with an extensive tour for two reasons. one: “We thought it might not be playable,” Jonny says.

The other “was partly my fault,” Yorke acknowledges. The album “released such a load of weird possibilities.” He wanted to go right back into the studio, then decided against it “carrying on in the same vein. We couldn’t do that, we couldn’t play live: ‘Aw, shit, now what?’”

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‘Live’ DVD –Broadcast July 2011Released Dec 2011

Re-mixCD of ‘The

King of Limbs’

tracks – Sept 2011

‘The King of Limbs’Released 18th Feb 2011 Multiple formats

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In June 2011, Radiohead announced a series of

remixes of tracks from the album. These remixes and others are compiled on the

remix album TKOL RMX 1234567, released in September 2011


In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number seven on the

UK Albums Chart, selling 33,469 copies in its first week, making it Radiohead's first album since The Bends (1995) not to reach number one in the


Radiohead performed The King of Limbs in its entirety for The King of Limbs – From The Basement, broadcast in July 2011 and released on DVD and Blu-ray in December 2011

The retail vinyl edition of the album, excluding "newspaper album" sales, sold more than

20,000 copies in the UK in the first half of 2011 – 12% of all vinyl sold in that period – and became the best-selling vinyl album of 2011.

Financially, it was probably the most successful record they've ever made, or pretty close. In a traditional deal, the

record company takes the majority of the money.

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1. Bloom2. Morning Mr. Magpie3. Little By Little4. Feral5. Lotus Flower6. Codex7. Give Up The Ghost8. Separator

(No single released)

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Key issues• Self-released (no record label involvement)• No promotional campaign before release - immediate• Followed 2007’s - ‘pay what you want’ - ‘In Rainbows’ release• Download file for £6 (initially)• Physical release followed – via XL (label = independent)• Special “newspaper edition” – ‘10’ inch vinyl/CD/artwork £33• No conventional ‘single’ released• Approaches would appeal to ‘hardcore’ fan base & audiences who make use of new technology

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Exam Guidance & Questions

POINT: Make points that directly answer the question (regarding key music industry issues).

EXAMPLE: Refer in detail to examples of: releases/chart positions/videos/marketing strategies/ways the audience access releases etc, that support your points(be specific & detailed).

EXPLAIN: Discuss/debate the key issues raised and reflect upon the implications for the music industry & the audience (give your own views also).

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CRASH/Uses & Grats

Label/Internet/CD or Vinyl?


AO1 – Demonstrate knowledge & understanding of media concepts, contexts and critical debates

= 20 marks

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= 10 marks

AO2 – Apply knowledge & understanding of how meanings and responses are created


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B1. Assess the main advantages of the internet for your three main texts. (30)

This is quite an open question; please be open-minded. Responses may largely tie in with marketing and points covered may make references to the following:

• Internet develops audience engagement (e.g., through points noted below) • Sites directly linked to the selected texts e.g. Bands website, on-line magazines/reviews• Blogs• Twitter • Use of YouTube • Social networking sites e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, etc.

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B3. How effectively were your three main texts marketed?[30]

Candidates have the option to argue either way on this question and differently for all three texts. Please look for logical argument with relevant points used to back-up ideas. Lower grade candidates may just discuss how their texts were marketed. Higher grade candidates need to engage with the effectively part of the question. For all candidates expect some description/factual knowledge of the campaigns. Evidence to suggest texts were marketed effectively may include points on:

• Style, frequency, scope/extent of campaign • Audience up-take (e.g. viewing figures, sales) • Audience discussion/feedback.

Continued over:

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The following are some generic points candidates might make in relation into how texts were marketed for each of the industries. How effectively is for the candidates to discuss.

The lists are not intended to be prescriptive.

MUSIC: Band/performer websites exposure –magazines, celebrity endorsement etc fan sites music press articles social networking sites viral campaigns itunes etc.

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B3. How successful have your chosen texts been for their industry? (30)

Responses may be dependent on how the candidate defines success. Please be open-minded here and engage with candidates' definitions – success does not necessarily imply commercial success. Some candidates may suggest that (some of) their chosen texts were not successful - this is acceptable but please look for coherence in the argument. Points covered may make reference to such general points as:

• commercial/financial success • awards • critical reviews • audience appreciation – e.g. niche, fans etc

Continued over:

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Responses to this question are likely to be heavily dependent on the texts selected – and need to be linked closely to them. The following are some generic points candidates might make for each of the industries.

The lists are not intended to be prescriptive.

MUSIC:• sales• downloads • concert sales • awards • critical reviews • influence

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Total = 30 marks

‘A’ Grade Exam Response