Radiohead is asking its fans to collaborate with the band to create its next music video. Unlike its "pay what you like" move, Radiohead isn't charting new territory with this move. It has been done before. The Shins did it, as have Modest Mouse, Beastie Boys, and others.
And yet Radiohead's video contest is a bit different:
...[T]hey've partnered with an independent video site, are focusing on animation, and are using a tiered voting approach that allows fans to be involved with picking the winner. Further, any song on the album is eligible for being turned into a video, which means fans will in many ways get to define the band's first single.
It is actually this last part that I find the most interesting, as it should prove fascinating to see how people interpret the various songs from In Rainbows. Even better, it will be intriguing to see if others share my preferences as to the songs. My favorite? "Nude," with "Weird Fishes" and "Reckoner" playing close seconds.
In literature there's a movement - perhaps most artfully advocated by Derrida - that suggests that the author's intent doesn't matter. I, the reader, construct the book. The author becomes secondary.
I don't believe this can be taken too far, but I do believe it has interesting implications for Radiohead in this case. What will fans do with its music? I suspect that unleashing the audience's creativity will prove a useful experiment, indeed, as requiring Thom Yorke and crew to innovate everything around their music may well prove to be a fruitless quest.