Mega-band Radiohead (which no longer has a record label) just dropped a bomb on the music industry in announcing that their music will be out in a few days and you can pay what you like for it.
While musicians have given away a track or two for free before, no band this big ever has done something as bold. You can preorder their box set for a hefty price, with liner notes, vinyl, pretty pictures etc., and it'll show up in your mailbox in December. Or, pay whatever you want to pay for the crystal clean and clear download. This is a band whose last album debuted at # 3 on the Billboard 200.
The frustration musicians are having with their labels continues to climb. Trent Reznor-- former front man for another mega-band Nine Inch Nails (who plan to split up) --encouraged people to download and use his music illegally when he was touring last month, after finding out what Universal was charging fans for his music in Australia.
Alternative models are emerging. Labels like Magnatune in Berkeley let you sample for free and pay any price between $5 and $18 for the whole album; it's up to you. And 50% of the cash goes straight to the artist -- no labels, lawyers, or overhead.
Jane Siberry of Vancouver is part of a handful of small artists who sell directly. She suggests a price, but lets you pay now, pay later, pay more or pay less -- and the site even keep stats on it. The average track sells for more than if it was priced on iTunes.