Indie band bypasses critics by releasing album direct to fans

The Raconteurs, the indie group formed by Jack White, of the White Stripes, are bypassing the critics by releasing their new album directly to the public. By Owen Gibson

Traditionally, rock critics have held the power to make or break new releases. But the Raconteurs, the indie group formed by Jack White, of the White Stripes, said yesterday that they were bypassing the critics by releasing their new album directly to the public.

In a surprise statement on their website, the group said Consolers of the Lonely would be "available everywhere" to everyone from next Tuesday. Usually, albums are preceded by at least one single and are not released for months, as marketing plans are drawn up, review copies sent out and interview schedules arranged. But after Radiohead shocked the record industry when it released In Rainbows online on a pay-what-you-like basis, the Raconteurs are the latest band to reject traditional marketing.

The group said one reason for the sudden release was so that everyone got the record at the same time and "no one has an upper hand regarding its availability, reception or perception". It would also guard against pre-release leaks.

Radiohead's managers have said one of the reasons for the In Rainbows experiment was to recreate a sense of anticipation and excitement around the release.

Some have argued that the power of the critic has been eroded in an age when just about any new track can be sampled online and opinions can be canvassed on forums and blogs.

The Raconteurs, who share a record label (XL) with Radiohead, also criticised Apple's iTunes music store for insisting albums were made available as individual track downloads and undermining the artistic value of the format.

Contributor

Owen Gibson, media correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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