A new book details the saga of private equity company Terra Firma acquiring EMI in August 2007 for £4.2bn. This extract details the battle over Radiohead’s seventh album
On Sunday 30 September 2007, just hours before the calendar flipped into Q4 and marked the start of the major labels’ busiest and most profitable retail period, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood posted a message on the band’s Dead Air Space blog. “Hello everyone,” he wrote. “Well, the new album is finished, and it’s coming out in 10 days. We’ve called it In Rainbows. Love from us all.”
This seemingly blasé post to announce their seventh studio album was followed up by the details of the release. When it became clear what precisely they were doing, all hell broke loose – not just within EMI but across the entire record business.
In Rainbows would be available, with no record company involvement, on 10 October directly from their official website and fans could choose how much, or how little, they wanted to pay for the download version. The band had seen out their six-album contract with Parlophone with the June 2003 release of Hail to the Thief, but the long-serving executives at EMI who had backed them since the early 1990s had regular communication channels running with the band and their two managers – Bryce Edge and Chris Hufford of Courtyard Management – and were working out ways for Radiohead to renew their contract and stay with EMI.