Hey, You’re the Ones Who Said It Was Up to Us …
Depending on which side of the music industry you sit, the pay-what-you-like pricing plan under which Radiohead chose to release its new album, “In Rainbows,” is either another not-quite-killing blow to established music-industry business models or an ill-conceived, money-losing gimmick.
According to research outfit comScore, about 1.2 million people visited Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” Web site during the first 29 days of October and many of them chose to download the album. But only 38% were willing to pay for it. Of those, about 17% paid between a penny and $4; 12% paid between $8 and $12; 6% paid between $4.01 and $8; and 4% paid between $12 and $20.
In the end, the average amount paid for “In Rainbows” under the band’s “honesty box” pricing policy was roughly $2.26 per download.
“The stories to date about the ‘In Rainbows’ pick-your-price download offer have been much more optimistic,” said Fred Wilson, managing partner of Union Square Ventures. “I paid $5 and had no reluctance whatsoever to take out my card and pay. It’s a fantastic record, the best thing they’ve done in years. This shows pretty conclusively that the majority of music consumers feel that digital recorded music should be free and is not worth paying for. That’s a large group that can’t be ignored and its time to come up with new business models to serve the freeloader market.”
That’s certainly one way of looking at it. But there’s another as well: 38% of listeners who could have downloaded the album for free paid for it instead. And that’s something, isn’t it?