With the Oct. 3 release of "Kid A," Radiohead's hotly anticipated but allegedly "difficult" album (i.e., no guitar solos, love ballads or sing-along chants), the British band accomplished quite a feat: It shot to the top of album charts worldwide, including Billboard's U.S. album charts, the holy grail for any band, no matter how "alternative" they may be.

To my ears, the album is a multifaceted musical gem, one that deserves critical praise for bringing elegantly crafted postrock sounds to a wider audience. Mirroring the band's musical innovations has been the Net-savvy approach of its record label, Capital Records, a subsidiary of the EMI group. I'm not just talking about the group's cool and appropriately obtuse Web site. No, Capitol Records actually went over the ramparts and cooperated with file-sharing sites to get the word (and sounds and images) out.

Prior to its release, "Kid A," which isn't exactly brimming with radio-ready singles, was streamed in its entirety at AngryCoffee.com and promoted through Aimster, a client that links Napster and AOL's Instant Messenger. Furthermore, while the prerelease security of "Kid A" was unusually tight, tracks (studio and live) somehow wound up in the Net's file-sharing community. Coincidence?