Radiohead, currently without a label, decided to try this new idea to further break away from the big machine of the recording industry. Go here for more details.
Industry reaction is mixed. Some think it's a bold new experiment that helps wrestle control from the labels and puts it into the hands of the people. Others lament the move as something that will further siphon foot traffic from already-struggling music stores.
It will be interesting to see what happens. Radiohead can probably afford to try this and not make any money at all. They'll make it up in mechandise sales, live performances, licensing etc. Less established artists are probably less likely to see money from a scheme like this.
It reminds me of a few years ago when Stephen King rocked the publishing world be announcing he'd start selling chapters of a new book online for a buck a pop. If people paid for it, he'd keep releasing chapters. If people ripped him off, he's stop writing the book. Interesting notion. If I remember, people didn't pay, and he stopped writing the book!
But there is a difference between people wanting to read a book chapter by chapter on a computer, (or worse yet printing all those pages themselves), and downloading music you can take with you anywhere. That's why iTunes is raging success and e-books are still a pipe dream.
Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what happens with the Radiohead experiment and who follows this model, or changes it somehow. Once again, the music industry is at a loss to adjust to the times and Radiohead's move today is another intresting reaction to it.