Radiohead releases 18 hours of unheard music after hackers demand ransom

The hackers wanted $150,000 to return the unreleased tracks from 1995 to 1998. Radiohead just published them for free.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read

Radiohead's Thom Yorke hacks on his ax during a San Francisco show.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Radiohead doesn't respond well to hackers' demands for ransom.

The British rock band has published 18 hours of unreleased tracks from its sessions for OK Computer, which came out in 1997. The archived music spans the years from 1995 to 1998.

In a Facebook post, Radiohead wrote, "We got hacked last week -- someone stole Thom's minidisk archive from around the time of OK Computer, and reportedly demanded $150,000 on threat of releasing it."

Rather than paying up, Radiohead posted the hours of unreleased audio on Bandcamp, and it'll be available for the next 18 days. It's free to stream and costs about $22 to download. The proceeds will go to Extinction Rebellion, a UK group fighting for the environment.

In the Facebook post, Radiohead said the unreleased material was never meant for the public's ears.

US intelligence agencies often recommend that victims don't pay ransoms to hackers, pointing out that oftentimes cybercriminals commit further crimes if their attacks pay off. And security companies have noted there's no guarantee hackers will keep their word once the ransom is paid.

Hackers have increasingly relied on ransomware to attack their victims -- installing malware that holds devices hostage unless people pay up. That's not the same as the hack Radiohead suffered, as the band had complete access to their files, but it follows a similar model: Pay up, or our cyberattack will have dire consequences.

In Radiohead's case, the band members were able to turn that demand around, publishing the stolen material themselves. In the Bandcamp post, Radiohead wrote, "As it's out there, it may as well be out there until we all get bored and move on."

You can listen to the released songs here: