Radiohead's giveaway

Update: I was able to pay 5 pounds by using a different email adress. And let me tell you, after 4 listens, it's their best album. Heard it here first!

As you've probably heard, Radiohead's new album In Rainbows is going to be available for download from the band's Web site Oct 10 -- and apparently from nowhere else. Pre-orders being taken now. A box set is coming in December, also seemingly only available from the Web site. The download costs whatever you feel like paying. I finally managed to get in and enter what economists might call my "rational" or "optimum" price: 0 pounds and 0 pence.

But the more I think about it, the less I like it. Just because Radiohead can afford to do this doesn't mean they should. If the recorded music of the Biggest Most Bestest Band In The World 's value suddenly plummets to zilch, what does that do to the rest of the market? Up and coming bands, mid-career bands ... they have to eat and pay bills. Radiohead seems to think they'll make the money up on touring, but not everyone can do that either.

I worry for working artists when I hear stuff like this. Suppose the richest, most successful writers started printing and selling their books for free? Where would that leave the rest of us?

I wish I could go back and change my price to something reasonable, but it won't let me. Says I can only have one download. Now I am part of the problem.


Pete said...

They tell me that artists usually don't see much money from album sales, that it does indeed mostly come from touring.

I think it's great. If record labels really just disappeared, as they very well might, what would be the loss to consumers? They're just the middlemen in a dying delivery model.

El Gordo de Amore said...

It will be interesting to see how many people pay money (I did not). I thought about it, and I think most people, including myself, tend to have buyer's remorse after buying absolutely any object, no matter how much you may like it (that money could have gone somewhere else, this thing I bought really hasn't made me that happy, etc., etc.) I mean, I considered 10 bucks, but I could also use that 10 bucks I don't really have to spend on acquiring other important things -- like diapers, milk, fireman toys, German pornography, or novelty X-ray specs.

Pete said...


I wonder if the principle applies on the anonymous internet.

Grendel said...

El Gordo -- Or, as tdb pointed out last night, you could spend it taking a chance on a new band. Radiohead could easily say that.

Pete -- that's a great article and blog. Thanks. Here's a clickable version of the link.

El Gordo de Amore said...

But how will I pay for the German pornography?

Grendel said...

By taking it out of Jimmy's college account, silly!

traca de broon said...

I was going to suggest you buy Doro Pesch albums, but that's probably not fair.

Pete said...

thanks, I was being lazy about the link.

Really- the idea of a world in which artists retain all rights to their work and sell it themselves is very attractive to me. You wonder about exposure for newer bands, but on the other hand, it wouldn't kill consumers to do more work to get at what they want. I remember enjoying that and the boon to the landscape-- the literal and figurative one-- makes me tear up a little.

It's not clear how it would work, and more importantly, if moneyed interests would ever let it work, but it's a fun thing to think about.

Antoine said...

i paid 5 pounds. I'm not sure why I chose that amount exactly (a lot of people chose that amount), but I suspect it has something to do with the itunes store pricing.