Last updated on 23/09/2020
On Monday, British rock band Radiohead rolled out arguably the most comprehensive one-stop website for a single band we’ve ever seen—and for an Internet-savvy band like Radiohead, that’s saying something.
The Radiohead Library, which can be found at the sensible URL of radiohead.com/library, includes nearly every official studio release since the band’s debut album Pablo Honey launched in 1993, along with much, much more. Full concerts, TV appearances, CD booklet art, long-lost promotional videos: they’re all here.
Whether you visit the site on a smartphone or desktop browser, it’s formatted to present each Radiohead era as a series of squares and rectangles. The top of the site includes generic, single-colored squares, which each represent a major studio album. Click any of them to reveal the album, its associated EPs and singles, and a scattershot assortment of official music videos, full concert recordings, and other audio and video samples from that album’s era. While you’re picking through each era, you may notice squares with T-shirt logos. Turns out, these link to reprints of classic tour shirts and merchandise from almost every Radiohead album, back on sale for the first time in years.
If you’re a fan of YouTube as a music-consumption service, however, you’re out of luck. Each Radiohead studio recording is linked to Spotify and Apple Music stream options, arguably for the sake of guaranteeing greater global access as opposed to linking to YouTube videos that can suffer from region-restriction headaches. The collection’s direct video links, meanwhile, rely on Vimeo; as of press time, that’s resulting in some serious video-streaming hitches and stutters, perhaps owing to one of the world’s biggest bands uploading dozens of never-before-seen concert and TV-appearance footage in one fell swoop.
Should the full collection prove intimidating, Radiohead offers a bit of curation. Bassist Colin Greenwood is the first band member to appear on the site’s “Curated By” docket with a selection of nine videos, headlined by a killer cover of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” taken from a 1995 MTV appearance. Future curation pages will be announced at the band’s Instagram page.
The Radiohead Library follows a similarly massive dump of music by British electronic musician Richard D. James, better known to the world as Aphex Twin. His 2017 archive project offers easier and freer access to decades of music, as it includes its own embedded music player, along with links to purchase copies of his albums, EPs, and singles from there.
Radiohead was among the biggest rock bands in the earliest music-sharing days to embrace the Internet as a distribution platform. The official promotional campaign for 2000’s Kid A revolved around a series of viral “Blip” videos (which reappear on The Radiohead Library in their entirety this week), while 2007’s In Rainbows debuted as an online giveaway with an optional purchase attached. Last year, a massive collection of OK Computer demo tapes found their way online, and Radiohead responded by temporarily giving those same demo tapes away as a free stream, with an optional purchase’s proceeds going entirely to charity. And while the band’s YouTube page isn’t nearly as comprehensive, it too is loaded with hours of studio recordings and full concerts.
Listing image by Radiohead