Because that's how you promote an album now.
Starting a little over 4 hours ago, Radiohead’s website started to disappear—literally. Bit by bit, it faded away, and as of this writing Radiohead.com is an entirely blank page. All the posts on Radiohead’s Facebook page have also been erased. As have all of their Tweets. All this was first spotted and chronicled on Reddit.
Don’t worry, though – it’s unlikely that Radiohead is really disappearing. Instead, this seems like the latest iteration of the way publicity is done in the era of total information awareness.
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Now there’s plenty of evidence that Radiohead’s vanishing act is promotion for a new album. Pitchfork reports that Radiohead fans in the UK received cryptic postcards on Friday, bearing an abstract image and the text “Sing a song of sixpence that goes/Burn the Witch,” followed by the even more menacing tagline “We know Where You Live.”
The band also recently announced a world tour, and registered two new companies under the name Dawn Chorus. So blanking out its internet presence isn’t a way of announcing the band’s retirement or breakup.
What it is, clearly, is a smart and slightly snarky reaction to the hypersaturation of the social media era. The particular choice to use postcards to tantalize/threaten Radiohead fans suggests a disdain for digital culture—though the band has pioneered using technology to promote and distribute its music.
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Considering how short the cycles on these things are now, it’s entirely possible all of this adds up to a new Radiohead album appearing next week—maybe even tomorrow. And here we are, helping to promote . . . nothing.
I’m not sure if Radiohead would consider that a win or not.