DENVER - Rock band Radiohead's decision to release its new album "In Rainbows" by itself -- online, without a record label's help and at any price the user chose -- rocked the industry last fall.
Some hailed it as the beginning of the end for record labels. Other dismissed it as merely a publicity stunt. Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher told Reuters the group would follow such a strategy "over my dead body."
But everyone wants to know: Who's next? The following 10 acts represent where the smart money is on such speculation. Let the games begin.
He's already shown a willingness to distribute music outside traditional label structures by releasing new music on his Web site, via his NPG Music Club and by offering his latest album as a covermount with the Daily Mail newspaper in London. Prince is also staging a massive effort to "gain control of the Internet" by suing the Pirate Bay and forcing independent fan clubs to remove images and other content, suggesting perhaps that he wants all eyes on his site in the future.
TRENT REZNOR/NINE INCH NAILS
After a highly publicized departure from label Interscope and Universal Music Group, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor came right out and declared his intention to release the group's next album from its Web site for $5. He also collaborated with Saul Williams on the "Niggy Tardust" release, which was offered online in a Radiohead-like fashion. This one is money in the bank.
The singer penned a rambling stream-of-consciousness post on her MySpace page admitting her fascination with the Radiohead model and said she would consider something similar in the future. Her latest album, provisionally titled "How Dirty Girls Get Clean," was supposed to be released last year but has yet to appear; Love is also not presently signed to a label.
The techno group's new live set, "Alive 2007," appeared on iTunes a week before it did physical formats, so clearly the act is interested in digital releases. Although still signed to Virgin, Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter told Billboard last summer that he's open to experimenting when free to do so. "What we might be interested to do from an artistic point of view might not have the same agenda as a major label for using physical formats," he said. "Personally, we still buy music, but we hardly buy any physical music. We've definitely changed our habits."
. . . AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
The group left Interscope last fall with no small degree of animosity, and is rumored to be considering a digital-only self-release in partnership with indie digital distributor IRIS. The Texas-based outfit is working on a new album, expected in August.