Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pot of Gold at The End of Radiohead's Rainbow?

A study was released yesterday that revealed the average of what buyers paid for Radiohead's new album, In Rainbows. The study, conducted by comScore Inc., showed that in a four-week period, 62% of buyers chose not to pay anything, while those who did pay averaged $6.00. However, the percent of people willing to shell out $X.XX for this album among U.S. residents was higher, at 40%, with a greater average payment of $8.05.
In Rainbows was released to much hype, due to it's innovative marketing approach (in case you hadn't heard or something). Radiohead chose not to renew their contract with EMI and instead released Rainbows themselves, through their website, giving fans (or just those who were curious) the opportunity to pay whatever their stingy little hearts desired. This means that if the purchaser so desired, they could plug 0.00 into the price box. For those confused, there was a question-mark link next to it, which when clicked displayed in block yellow caps, "IT'S UP TO YOU."
Is this too much power to give the consumer? Giving fans the option of paying nothing seems to defeat the purpose of calling the music industry an industry. Because in reality, when given an option, how many people would rather pay for a product than be legally given it for free? 38%, apparently. 38% is higher than I expected, actually. I think 38 is a hopeful number in this context. It shows that people still have appreciation for a person's work, or at least enough to shell out $6.00.
This scenario reminds me of a late-night news special I saw once, where a man had a freezer full of fresh fish set up in front of a shop, with a cash box on top. There was nobody manning the fish stand, and the man who set it up was relying purely on people's good morals to pay for the fish. Surprisingly, perhaps, he was right, and found at the end of the day he usually had exactly, if not more, than what he calculated he should have made (based on the fish missing from the freezer).
An unfortunate blip in Radiohead's plan versus the fish-man's, was that while most did pay for fish, most did not pay for the album. Why? Perhaps because music has become so focused around the Internet and illegal-downloading that the opportunity to legally get free music is merely a way to be guilt-free when browsing your iTunes library. People should recognize that Radiohead's decision to let buyers choose their price is a business decision (although some do argue, and it can be argued, that it is purely for publicity). People should pay for the album in the way that they would pay for the fish left in the freezer.

Purchase In Rainbows HERE

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