Yorke asks you to name your price

2007-10-02

in Internet matters, Music

In a publicity stunt / experiment in the changing climate of the music business, Radiohead is selling their new album “In Rainbows” online, for whatever the buyer wishes to pay. The website where this is done looks so ugly that it made me initially suspect that the thing is a scam (reading about it here doesn’t mean for certain that it isn’t). The mainstream media seem to have bought it, so it is probably genuine. No matter when you pay, they won’t send you the download link for the album until October 10th.

For my part, I paid the mean price of an Oxford pint. That is more than they would have gotten from me in the alternative, as I stopped buying their albums long ago, during the long slide from the brilliance of “OK Computer” into the mediocrity of their later work.

[Update: 10 October 2007] I received my copy of the album. It arrived in the form of ten DRM-free 160 kbps MP3 files. I will comment on the quality of the music once I have had more time to absorb it.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Litty October 2, 2007 at 9:40 am

during the long slide from the brilliance of “OK Computer” into the mediocrity of their later work.
While OK Computer was definitely a good album, this perceived slide is probably more the result of your maturing tastes than any great change in what Radiohead is cranking out.

Litty October 2, 2007 at 10:37 am

Also, out of curiosity, what is “the mean price of an Oxford pint [of beer, not blood]?”

Nicky October 2, 2007 at 11:31 am

The mean price of an Oxford pint is a pretty scant sum to be paying for an album regardless.

Anon October 2, 2007 at 12:20 pm

The mean price of an Oxford pint is a pretty scant sum to be paying for an album regardless.

The rational price to pay is 1p, assuming the site won’t accept a value of 0.

Also, remember that CDs in Canada generally cost $10-15, not 10-15 Pounds like in England.

Anon October 2, 2007 at 1:24 pm

What format is the downloaded version in? MP3? Will it work will all types of digital music players? Does it include DRM? Or watermarking?

The site doesn’t seem to answer any of these questions.

Litty October 2, 2007 at 1:38 pm

“In Radiohead’s plan, fans will choose their own price for the digital version of the 10-song “In Rainbows,” which it said would be sold as a download without copy restriction software, known as digital-rights management. In effect, the band is asking fans to establish a monetary value for music, even when widespread piracy means that it would be available free.”

NY Times

Milan October 2, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Also, out of curiosity, what is “the mean price of an Oxford pint [of beer, not blood]?”

£2.50

The mean price of an Oxford pint is a pretty scant sum to be paying for an album regardless.

If someone came up on the street and offered a real CD for $10, I would probably not take it. Paying more than $6 (with the processing fee) for some MP3s I may not like seems quite reasonable.

What format is the downloaded version in? MP3? Will it work will all types of digital music players? Does it include DRM? Or watermarking?

I have no idea. This is the major reason I considered paying £0.01.

Ben October 2, 2007 at 6:53 pm

A lot of people here have been talking about this, and in particular whether p=0 is acceptable (technically, rather than morally). Personally I’ve never really ‘got’ Radiohead, but would be inclined to give them a try if that were so – which may be the point. If you need to pay £0.01 then I’d probably not, more because of the hassle of having to actually enter credit card details and pay for something than because that penny matters to me.

Milan October 2, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Ben,

You do need to give them a credit card number, and presumably pay at least 1p. You also need to give them an address, email address, and phone number.

Milan October 2, 2007 at 11:53 pm

The charge is on my credit card statement: C$6.13. Once I know about the file format, DRM status, and quality of the music I will be able to assess whether it was worthwhile.

Anon October 3, 2007 at 8:13 am

“Once I know about the file format, DRM status, and quality of the music I will be able to assess whether it was worthwhile”

Hmm, interesting ranking of criteria there…

Anonymous October 3, 2007 at 10:37 am

Hmm, interesting ranking of criteria there…

Not really. If it is in a format (say, Windows Media) or has certain DRM file restrictions, the album may be no more playable on a Mac / iPod than an eight-track tape. The usability of the media is necessarily prior to the quality of the songs on it.

Anonymous October 3, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Putting a price on Radiohead
By Free Exchange | Washington, DC

CRITICALLY acclaimed and wildly successful British rock band Radiohead left news organisations and music industry types scratching their chins this week after announcing that it would essentially be giving its latest album away. Fans can currently pre-order the album at the band’s website, but clicking through to the checkout page, a buyer finds himself confronted by blank boxes. The amount to be paid is, according to the site, “up to you.” Presumably, that amount might well be zero dollars and cents, or pounds and pence, give or take the credit card processing fee.

Anonymous October 3, 2007 at 3:27 pm

“I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this is simply a case of a wealthy and conscientious band opting to do what it feels is the right thing by its fans, but the honour system strategy nonetheless strikes me as clever and highly workable. It reveals a recognition of the fact that recorded music is no longer an excludable good; those who wish to get recorded music for free will be able to do so, no matter how hard record labels try to shield their product behind a wall of technology.

Once one understands that, it becomes clear that all music purchases are essentially conducted on the honour system.”

Anon October 3, 2007 at 3:34 pm
Milan October 9, 2007 at 5:50 pm

THE ALBUM WILL COME AS A 48.4MB ZIP FILE CONTAINING 10 X 160KBPS DRM FREE MP3s.

Anon November 6, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Among U.S. residents, about 40 percent who downloaded the album paid to do so. Their average payment was $8.05, the firm said.

Some 36 percent of the fans outside the U.S. who downloaded the album opted to pay; on average, those fans paid $4.64, according to the study.

Source

. November 8, 2007 at 10:41 am

According to comScore, a firm given permission to study downloads from the British rock group’s website, only 38 percent of album “buyers” opted to pay the band for the new record, handing over $6 on average. About 1.2 million people visited the download website during October, but the research firm did not say how many of those visitors were estimated to have made a purchase.

It’s difficult to say, then, how Radiohead fared under the voluntary system relative to what it might have earned through a more traditional pricing and distribution mechanism. The ultimate outcome depends upon which effect dominated: the ability of consumers who would have otherwise paid to legally free ride, or the capture of revenue from buyers who would have otherwise obtained the album for free via illegal downloading or copying.

Source

. November 13, 2007 at 1:40 pm

RCMP Won’t Go After Personal Filesharers

By kdawson on sigh-of-relief-eh

mlauzon writes “The RCMP announced that it will stop targeting people who download copyrighted material for personal use (Google translation). Their priority will be to focus on organized crime and copyright theft that affects the health and safety of consumers, such as copyright violations related to medicine and electrical appliances, instead of the cash flow of large corporations. Around the same time that the CRIA successfully took Demonoid offline, the RCMP made clear that Demonoid’s users don’t have to worry about getting prosecuted, at least not in Canada. ‘Piracy for personal use is no longer targeted,’ Noël St-Hilaire, head of copyright theft investigations of the RCMP, said in an interview. ‘It is too easy to copy these days and we do not know how to stop it.'”

. November 13, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Signs o’ the times

Nov 13th 2007
From Economist.com

RADIOHEAD is perhaps the most successful band to give away new music online, making its recent album, “In Rainbows”, available to download on a “pay-what-you-want” basis. Unfortunately for Radiohead—and music industry trend-spotters—62% of downloaders paid nothing, according to comScore, an internet information provider. Only 4% of fans paid over $12. Thankfully for the musician, songs are only one cash generator. Radiohead fans can also pre-order a swanky box set of the album at $80. In July Prince caused a fuss, giving away his new album with a mid-market British newspaper after his more lucrative concerts sold out in record time.

. November 20, 2007 at 9:46 am

Yorke paid nothing for own album

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has admitted he was among the thousands of people who paid nothing to download the band’s latest album.

. February 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Radiohead has made a surprise announcement that its new album, The King of Limbs, will be available for download on Saturday — months ahead of a physical release.

The British rock band made the announcement Monday on its website.

After grabbing headlines by releasing its last album, 2007’s In Rainbows, initially as a pay-what-you-like download, the band is experimenting with the new format again.

Following Saturday’s digital release, The King of Limbs will be also be available as what Radiohead calls a “newspaper album” beginning May 9. The expanded package includes a CD, two 10-inch vinyl records and artwork as well as the digital download.

The digital-only version is priced at $9 US for a MP3 file, $14 for a WAV.

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