Radiohead to sign with ATO?

When Dave Matthews and Coran Capshaw founded ATO Records, they had the financial resources of one of the world's biggest bands with which to build the label. Now it's being reported that the label may soon sign another band among the world's biggest. The New York Times reports today that ATO is the frontrunner to be the new American record label for U.K. rockers Radiohead.

It would be a deal that would send shockwaves not only through Charlottesville, but through the record industry as a whole– the most prominent instance of a world-famous band foregoing a major record label contract for one with a smaller, independent company. The deal would reportedly allow Red Light/ATO subsidiary Side One to release Radiohead's latest album, In Rainbows, in American record stores, while the band would retain ownership of the recordings. British label XL Records would sell the album internationally.

Before now, the only known Coran-Radiohead connection had been when the band headlined the 2006 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, the outdoor annual Tennessee shindig that Capshaw co-owns.

Signing up a decidedly avant garde band like Radiohead would earn ATO unprecedented credibility with musicians and fans beyond the so-called "jam band" community. Though the label has signed such non-jammers as Ben Kweller and Patty Griffin, its most famous artists to date are hippie favorites like Gov't Mule, My Morning Jacket, and North Mississippi All-Stars.

If ATO does sign the much-acclaimed Oxfordites, the company would find itself in uncharted territory for a record label. On October 10, Radiohead made history when the band put In Rainbows on its website, and made it available for download for whatever price (including zero) each individual fan wished to pay.

Whichever company puts In Rainbows in record stores will be betting on fans' desires to go to the store and buy an album that has already been legally available for free to anyone with an Internet connection. The band has not released any official sales figures, though music industry news website Gigwise.com reports that the album has been downloaded 1.2 million times.

Calls to various Red Light/ATO representatives were not immediately returned.

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6 comments

The Pavilion was just wishful thinking on my part.
No confirmation from my friend at redlight so I have to believe the rumors are true.

"decidedly avant garde band" What the hell have you been smoking? You must be one of those people who still thinks Pink Floyd is far out.

Radiohead rules!

Radiohead at the Pavilion? I'm lining up for my tickets already.
I hear their box set is selling fairly well for the effites who appreciate the better sound quality that the cd can provide. So there's some profit to be made yet from In Rainbows, which by the way I think is one of the best releases of 2007.

I'll be in line for Radiohead tickets at JPJ, oh, hell yes.

Kid A to this day remains in regular rotation on my jukebox.

you're right Steve, Pink Floyd is the thinly guised precursor to such abstract artists as james blunt and the white stripes.