Radiohead's New Album – Pay What You Want (That's the Distribution Model, Not The Title)

Other bands and artists have hinted at this model but nobody on the level of Radiohead has gone this far.  Their new album, “In Rainbows” will be released on October 10 using a “Pay What You Want” model for those who download it digitally. 

Says one commentator on Reddit:

“I can't stand Radiohead's music, but I'm going to drop $15 on this
album just to provide incentive for the rest of the industry to adopt
this model. Even though I don't like their music itself, it's hard to
dispute that taking on a risk like this is a HUGE contribution to music
in general.”


[Edit: Well, there's always a catch and apparently Radiohead aren't so altruistic as this move might make them appear at first.  The new album is a 2-disc set and if you download it digitally, you only get the first CD.  You have to buy the old-fashioned hard copy to get both CD's and that will set you back 40 pounds (which is about $80 CND) Seriously, that's getting into the level of gouging seen only with bands like the Rolling Stones and the Eagles.  Congratulations Radiohead – if this is true, you're really sticking it to The Man – “the man” being the guy who loves your music but hates being ripped off and will just download both albums via Bittorrent like he always has.]

In semi-related news, Amazon has started a new service called AmazonMP3 which is similar to iTunes except that they're selling DRM-free music.  Their selection is pretty decent so far and although I haven't tried it yet, it's almost enough to make a guy start paying for music again!

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Actually the $80 is for two CDs bundled with two LPs and artwork in a custom box set. It has “collectible” written all over it. No word on whether the 2nd CD is all new studio recordings or BBC interviews, old out-takes or whatever. Even if it is all new material, you always pay a premium for collectible crap. Not that I particularly like it, but they aren't innovating new ways to gouge.
    I was glad that the Globe and Mail article gave a shout out to Jane Sibbery. (Issa, is the name she goes by now.) She's been offering her music online on a pay-what you can basis for a few years now. I haven't been by her site recently because I downloaded all of her old stuff last year but according to the Globe she's averaging $1.18 per song selling her stuff on the honour system.
    That's more than Itunes would charge. I doubt that she is moving as many “units” as she would through a highly visible site like Itunes, but she keeps every penny. It would be cool if a big name band like Radiohead would at least try it to see how it worked.

    Posted 02 Oct 2007 at 7:36 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    I still think they need a third price point if you want to get both CD's – somewhere between “pay whatever you want (but you can only get 1 CD)” and “really high price for die-hard fans only but you get both CD's plus two LP's of the same songs even if you don't listen to LP's plus some artwork” so that fans who want both CD's worth of music aren't shelling out $80.
    What's a new double CD from a big name band worth these days – $20-$40 I think – so that could provide some guidance – even if they're trying to *not* be like traditional music industry practices.

    Posted 08 Oct 2007 at 4:56 pm
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