Tension between Radiohead and EMI was highlighted again today when the band’s former label removed a misleading ad for the group’s back catalogue from the internet.
Until the end of last week, anyone typing in Radiohead into Google would be met with a paid-for ad at the top of the search results reading: “Radiohead – New Album ‘Rainbow’ now available as boxset”, The Guardian reports.
Despite appearances, the ad led not to the special “discbox” edition of In Rainbows but to a website where EMI subsidiary Parlophone is selling a box-set of the seven albums Radiohead recorded while they were still signed to the label.
That the two box-sets are coming out at the same time in December and at the same price had already led some fans to believe that EMI is trying to compete with its former charges’ independent release. While EMI has denied this, the ad (visible in a screengrab from Friday, above) raises new questions about the label’s motives.
Attempts to ascertain the identity of the company behind the ad by Guardian Unlimited Music met with little success. Phone calls and emails to EMI’s subsidiary Parlophone about the ad were not returned last week. Finally, a cryptic, one-sentence email arrived from EMI publicist Chris Latham yesterday.
“Parlophone were aware of the data source glitch and removed the link immediately,” it read. When asked to confirm that this meant that the label had indeed placed the Google Ad and then removed it, the company spokesman twice declined any further comment or clarification.
EMI and Radiohead have been engaged in a behind-the-scenes feud since the band, who fulfilled their contract with the label with 2003’s Hail to the Thief, decided to not to resign with them. Days after the band decided to release the CD of their new album In Rainbows with independent label XL last month, EMI announced it was offering the rockers’ output from 1993 to 2003 for sale as a seven-CD box-set.
It soon became clear that the back catalogue release was put together without the involvement of the band, who have distanced themselves from it. (“The band haven’t released it,” band spokesman Murray Chalmers said. “The band aren’t in contract to EMI anymore.”) The EMI box-set will be sent out at the same time as In Rainbows “discbox” box-set in December and at the same price, too.
While fans have accused EMI of releasing its Radiohead box-set as “retribution” for the band going elsewhere, the label has denied this.