Burn The Witch, a Radiohead’s musical and marketing feat

Radiohead burn the witch cover

After more than 3 decades of activity, Radiohead is still able to positively surprise us. Besides their music, whose legacy can’t even be questioned, the band set up itself as a pioneer in music marketing, by proposing original ways of releasing and sharing its music, and by criticizing some new actors of the industry, such as Spotify. “Burn The Witch”, their freshly-released new single which is taken from their upcoming ninth album, doesn’t call into question: the band’s musical and marketing creativity is still on top!

The release of Radiohead‘s new single “Burn The Witch” is already a successful marketing case study.

Since January, the band has been teasing the release of a new album, by registering the company “Dawn Chorus LLP”. Some weeks ago, the band mailed (not e-mailed) embossed cards to their fans. The content was mysterious and creepy: “Burn the witch, we know where you live”.


The teasing campaign was launched. Yet, on Sunday, the band literally started to fade out from the internet, to finally completely disappear from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even their website was suddenly empty. For sure, something was going to happen. Yesterday, 3 strange animated videos, notably featuring singing birds reminding the famous English nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence”, were successively added to their Instagram account.

Some hours after, the band was dropping by surprise a new stop-motion video for a single obviously named “Burn The Witch”. The Chris Hopewell-directed work is a homage to the British children’s television programs “Trumptonshire” and to 1973’s horror film “The Wicker Man”. The band already worked with Hopewell in 2003 for the video of “There There“.

Although Thom Yorke publicly lynched Spotify in 2013, calling them “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”, the track was added straight away on the streaming service. It was also available via Apple Music, Tidal and, contrary to what was previously announced, available for purchase on iTunes the same day.

It was confessed via Jacknife and Chris Hopewell‘s Instagram account that the video was made in 2 weeks only and was finished only some days before the release!

Radiohead‘s team definitely understands music marketing strategy. In 2007, three years after having left their label EMI, the band already registered “urbia Xendless Ltd” as a company to digitally release their seventh album “In Rainbows” with a “name your price” download. The album was available online for 10 weeks before the traditional physical release. Despite the fact that you could download it for free, their publicist announced the figures of three million purchases via the band’s webstore and almost 2 million physical copies. By outselling the sales figures of their last two LP, it was the proof that a new way of sharing music, without any majors, was possible, more respectful, and lucrative for the artists.


“Burn the Witch” is a reconnection to their previous dark and beautiful sound!

It is a haunting and dark song whose sound differs from their previous LP “The King of the Limbs”. It actually reconnects with what they were doing before and, in any case, it is mesmerizing and beautiful. There is not a lot of electronic arrangement on the instrumental which, by the way, was said by some people to be inspired by Coldplay‘s music (LOL).

Chris Martin gif

The lyrics are dark and sounds like an invitation to withdrawal in this modern area where everything tends to be shared and public despite the fact that everyone is monitored (Big Brother is watching you). Social media, which are probably criticized here, were yet smartly used by the band to create this new buzz.

Some mystery still remains around the yet-untitled ninth album but the release of this single, which is at the same time a musical and marketing success, totally lets us confident. Their social media resurrection might come back with some announcements.

“Burn The Witch” is Radiohead‘s first official single in 5 years. However, they shared their unofficial James Bond‘s theme song “Spectre” for Christmas; a song that was so much better than Sam Smith‘s boring “Writing On the wall”.

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