Plenty has been said about the release model, so I won't bother to equivocate on it here, except to say that you really have to be already famous for something like that to matter. I read the David Byrne "interview" with Thom Yorke in December's Wired, and Mr. Yorke essentially said the same thing. Lots of people give their album away, but the vast majority of those albums couldn't realistically be monetized in any meaningful fashion anyways, whereas the Radiohead album, because it's them, has significant intrinsic value.
In any case, we watched their studiocast last night on Current, and I was fairly impressed that they can get all of the feel and maybe 90% of the production quality in a live context. I have seen them live twice before, but I was in my hater phase, and was essentially bored to tears at the time. But with an objective eye, I have to say that what they're doing now puts them in the same meta-artist category as Underworld in my book. That is to say, the live show, their visual representation, the albums, and their web presence all are part and parcel of the package and essentially inseparable from each other. My wife pointed out that they've moved beyond the major label "Pre-made Pop Package" in to some other realm.
(I find it interesting to note at this juncture that both Radiohead and Underworld are on the same imprint here in the US.)
In any event, it does give one hope, although it takes a lot more ingenuity to pull off something like this than to just write a not-bad song and get signed. Thoughts?