Radiohead's Physical Album Selling Well

from the good-for-them dept

Despite what some claim, Radiohead made it abundantly clear from the very beginning that the "name your own price" download offering was part of a promotional campaign to get more people to buy the physical CD. And buy it, they are. Apparently, the physical Radiohead CD is topping the charts in the UK -- and I'd bet that an awful lot of those buyers also downloaded the music first (whether for free or not). While we still don't understand what benefit there was to closing down the download offering, it's hard to see how anyone can still claim that the promotional blitz was a dumb idea. Obviously, Radiohead would have received plenty of attention just for releasing an album. But, in doing it this way, Radiohead got even more publicity, and were able to do it for almost no promotional costs. So, even if Radiohead's lead singer actually is accusing his internet fans of being "sad loners," it appears that Radiohead's internet experiment has been quite a success.


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    ervserver, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Listening to it right now, great stuff. Take that RIAA !!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Cool - it will inspire a lot of bands to do variations on this experiment (if they haven't figured it out already!)

     

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    Scorpiaux, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    It's a promotion. That's all.

    "While we still don't understand what benefit there was to closing down the download offering, it's hard to see how anyone can still claim that the promotional blitz was a dumb idea."

    =====

    I get coupons all the time in the mail and in my email with all kinds of promotions. In fact, one that looks great right now has to do with a round trip airfare to a city I visit often a thousand miles away from my home. I will probably take advantage of it. Maybe they don't know that if they gave away the tickets for free or let the passengers decide how much they wanted to pay, they could make tons of money. That's a great business model; don't you think? Does anyone here have any pull with Toyota? I'd like to drive a car off the local dealer's lot for free. I can't believe that Toyota hasn't caught on to this new way of doing business; can you? We should boycott Toyota until they give away their inventory. In fact, we could solve the current mortgage crisis by convincing the banks and loan companies to simply forgive whatever is still owed by the people who took out the loans. The lending institutions will make lots of money and no one will ever be homeless again! WOW! Am I ever glad I discovered the great thinking of all the people who post here. I'll have to spread the word a.s.a.p.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:22am

      Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

      You don't use a computer all that often do you? A physical good has physical value as well as a perceived (virtual) value. A digital good, as in the music they said name your own price with, has only the value of the music itself, perceived. Comparing airfare tickets and cars to digital media is just like comparing a car to my TV. They are just too different.

       

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      RIAA Overseer, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:44am

      Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

      That's enough out of you, get back in your cage!

       

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        acerimmer, Jan 9th, 2008 @ 7:53pm

        Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

        damn... my car and my tv cost me about the same amount... and i think my car is depreciating faster even though i just spent $750.00 cnd for a water pump... but i guess you get ehat you deserve when you buy a Ford.... lol

         

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      deadzone (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:56am

      Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

      "In fact, we could solve the current mortgage crisis by convincing the banks and loan companies to simply forgive whatever is still owed by the people who took out the loans. The lending institutions will make lots of money and no one will ever be homeless again! WOW! Am I ever glad I discovered the great thinking of all the people who post here. I'll have to spread the word a.s.a.p."

      Not a bad analogy really since the banks and loan companies have nobody but themselves to blame for the crisis they are in. Pretty much just like the RIAA and Music Industry have contributed to their own failures. You make stupid decisions and operate solely from a position of greed and dishonesty, then it may come back to bite you in the end.

       

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      Kevin, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 11:04am

      Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

      You obviously haven't read Tech Dirt before, since this is covered almost daily.

      There is a distinction between scarce goods (plastic audio CDs, Toyotas, houses, and airline seats) and non-scarce goods (software, music, etc). Scarce goods have a direct cost to manufacture every time you make one, along with distribution costs, inventory management costs, etc. Non-scarce goods like a song or a piece of software have a certain amount of cost to initially create, but then subsequent copies have practically no cost to create, especially when you're dealing with a digital product.

      So when you're dealing in products that have nearly zero cost to reproduce, you have basically two ways to profit from the product.

      1. Find an artificial method of restricting the reproduction of the product. This usually ends up being temporary because all restriction technology is eventually defeated.

      2. Find some way of selling the zero-cost product in a way that adds value to it. In this case, people will pay for the added value.

       

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        Scorpiaux, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

        It really doesn't matter how schooled or self-educated or astute someone is with respect to how to make a profit in the music business. It doesn't matter if it costs next to zero to make copies of videos or audio recordings. What matters is who has the right to do what they wish and when with creations that they own. The US Constitution is very clear on this matter although people here want to try and obfuscate it. Unless you are a stockholder, owner, or officer in a corporation, you can rant all you wish about what they do and how they do it, but unless they are breaking the law, you have no say in it. If you wish to boycott what a company sells, then do so. If you wish to try to get others to do the same, then do so. But why waste your time? Create your own company and then deal with those issues any way you wish. Just keep in mind that more than 90% of new businesses fail within a brief period, usually 2 to 5 years.

        IMO, there is a herd mentality here. No one comes out and says it bluntly, but the reason most people attack copyright owners in the music (and to some extent the motion picture) business is that they hope that somehow they will be successful in getting the benefit of other's creations without paying for them -- in short, free music, and of course they won't get served subpoenas to appear for depositions inquiring into their downloads of others' intellectual property without paying for them.

        Returning to the subject of cost. To make the original master, the cost could run into the thousands or millions, depending on the quality, the length, and other factors. And there are the front-end costs that can be (but not necessarily) substantial as well. BUT EVEN SO, it doesn't matter. All of that is academic. The creator and/or the owner has the freedom to charge whatever they wish to charge and to package what they sell any way they wish without interference from non-involved parties. If their efforts produce a bankruptcy, it is theirs to suffer. If they make a profit, how much they make is no one's business that does not have a financial stake in the effort.

        Why not spend your time and energies on matters that are much more compelling and in need of urgent solutions not to mention financial support? Matters such as global climate change, education, immigration issues, war, pestilence, starvation, aids (This even has an intellectual property twist.), homelessness, health care, loss of animal habitat, endangered species, or even on things that are more ethereal such as space exploration?

        Copyright infringement is an issue, to be sure, and it needs to be discussed, but fighting over the unauthorized ripping off of a piece of music doesn't strike me as worthy of the same kind of dedication and attention that should be given to those matters mentioned above.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

          The US Constitution is very clear on this matter although people here want to try and obfuscate it. Unless you are a stockholder, owner, or officer in a corporation, you can rant all you wish about what they do and how they do it, but unless they are breaking the law, you have no say in it.

          Speaking of the US constitution, you seem to have missed that part that deals with free speech. Don't like what somebody has to say about your business model? Want them to shut up about it? Go stuff yourself!

           

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          Mike (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all.

          Scorpiaux, I like how you fail to actually respond to all the people who pointed out why your original point was way off. There's a huge difference between scarce and infinite goods, and the economics that impact them.

          It doesn't matter if it costs next to zero to make copies of videos or audio recordings.

          Actually, it matters quite a bit. This is just basic economics, so I'm fairly amazed that you would state something here. A competitive market means that price will get driven to marginal cost. If you want to ignore that fundamental law, you won't stay in business very long (witness what's happening to the RIAA labels).

          What matters is who has the right to do what they wish and when with creations that they own.

          You can repeat that over and over again, and I'm sure you probably believe it, but you are again confusing the two points that we raised. What you state here is meaningless. Yes, the creator has the right to determine what they do with it... but if they actually understood the economics and how they could do more with it by ignoring copyright, wouldn't that make sense?

          None of us are trying to force the content creators to change. What we're doing is explaining that the MARKET is going to force them to change, and you're a lot better off changing ahead of the curve than behind it.

          Unless you are a stockholder, owner, or officer in a corporation, you can rant all you wish about what they do and how they do it, but unless they are breaking the law, you have no say in it.

          Oh yes. How dare we have an opinion that we can back up with data, examples and evidence on how they can make more money.

          How awful of us.

          IMO, there is a herd mentality here. No one comes out and says it bluntly, but the reason most people attack copyright owners in the music (and to some extent the motion picture) business is that they hope that somehow they will be successful in getting the benefit of other's creations without paying for them -- in short, free music, and of course they won't get served subpoenas to appear for depositions inquiring into their downloads of others' intellectual property without paying for them.

          I've stated it time and time again, though I know you're new around here, so I'll say it again: I do not, have not and will not engage in such things. I buy CDs. I do not download music. I do not do any of that. It has absolutely nothing to do with any desire for "free" music. It's simply based on a recognition of the market forces at play.

          I know you seem to think that no one is allowed to express an opinion, but that Constitution you keep referring to says otherwise. You should read it sometime.

          Returning to the subject of cost. To make the original master, the cost could run into the thousands or millions, depending on the quality, the length, and other factors. And there are the front-end costs that can be (but not necessarily) substantial as well.

          You really ought to learn a little basic economics before you try to school us on economics. Pick up a text book, flip to the index at the back and learn the difference between fixed costs and marginal costs. Then go learn what marginal costs mean when it comes to pricing. Then come back and let us know what you think.

          The creator and/or the owner has the freedom to charge whatever they wish to charge and to package what they sell any way they wish without interference from non-involved parties.

          Indeed. We've never said otherwise.

          But you're leaving something unstated. You seem to act as if the creator has FINAL say in these matters, and that's not the case and never has been. The market sets the price, and that's the interaction between both supply (the creator) and demand (the buyer). That's what drives price to marginal cost over time, and that's the forces we're trying to explain here.

          This isn't about what we "want" to happen, it's what actually is happening. Forgive us for explaining physics to people who believe the earth is flat.

          If their efforts produce a bankruptcy, it is theirs to suffer. If they make a profit, how much they make is no one's business that does not have a financial stake in the effort.


          And if we have opinions and analysis, we're free to state them. Or when did that become illegal?

          Why not spend your time and energies on matters that are much more compelling and in need of urgent solutions not to mention financial support? Matters such as global climate change, education, immigration issues, war, pestilence, starvation, aids (This even has an intellectual property twist.), homelessness, health care, loss of animal habitat, endangered species, or even on things that are more ethereal such as space exploration?

          What makes you think that we're not involved in any of those things?

          Actually, the amazing thing is that once you understand these basic economic issues, a lot of the issues you list above start to become a lot more interesting as well. But, of course, if you don't want to understand economics and want to tell anyone who doesn't buy into the same myths you believe in that they have no right to give their opinion... I guess you wouldn't want to bother to understand why building up artificial scarcity actually contributes to many of the problems you discuss above.

          Copyright infringement is an issue, to be sure, and it needs to be discussed, but fighting over the unauthorized ripping off of a piece of music doesn't strike me as worthy of the same kind of dedication and attention that should be given to those matters mentioned above.

          Then why do you bother?

           

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            Scorpiaux, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:51pm

            Re: It's a promotion. That's all. (for Mike)

            "Unless you are a stockholder, owner, or officer in a corporation, you can rant all you wish about what they do and how they do it, but unless they are breaking the law, you have no say in it." - Scorpiaux

            "Oh yes. How dare we have an opinion that we can back up with data, examples and evidence on how they can make more money.

            How awful of us." - Mike

            =====

            You've made that statement several times. I usually do not respond to obvious falsehoods or to slams such as that by AC when he resorts to blatant insults. I have never posted that you or anyone else do not have full free speech rights nor have I stated that you shouldn't have an opinion and say what it is. In the above quote of myself, when I stated that "you have no say", it meant that you have no standing within that organization and will probably not get a hearing with them, even with a bullhorn.

            Early on you were trying to label me as an illiterate with no reading skills. Rest assured that I am not illiterate. But some of your adherants here have difficulty recognizing sarcasm and/or parody and/or satire when it is in plain view. My post about free airplane tickets, free cars, forgiveness on mortgages was just that. Yet there were responses to the effect that I was posting in a literal fashion. I got a big laugh out of that. I almost resorted to posting "LOL" or "ROTFL", but I refrained.

            I "bother" to read and comment here because I am professionally affected by what is happening in those court fights over copyrights and intellectual property. I have fought against some big boys who understand the concepts and against individuals who haven't got a clue. I have written and had published numerous articles over the years, one being on the issue of music file downloads. Among many other topics I have also had published a couple of articles on paperless voting machines. An excellent topic for consideration that might fit in with your subject matter here. I have't self-published anything on the Internet and do not wish to do so although I have a blog which I have temporarily abandoned. You can find it easily with a search on "Scorpiaux." I don't have the time or interest to return to it right now. You can get a flavor of my "leanings" on it, however.

            Read my post on the Radiohead group. It is a bit different than my more caustic remarks in other posts here. It would be good if there were a response from someone with a differfent point of view who was articulate and was able and willing to post a non-emotional counter.

             

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              Cixelsid, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 4:36pm

              Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all. (for Mike)

              "It would be good if there were a response from someone with a differfent point of view who was articulate and was able and willing to post a non-emotional counter."

              I think Mike's post was pretty articulate and non-emotional. On the other hand your posts seems rampant with self delusion and monkey talk.

              Also good luck finding someone with a "differfent" pov who's both articulate and able to use the internets without resorting to asking his 4 yr old grandson for help.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 5:24pm

              Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all. (for Mike)

              In the above quote of myself, when I stated that "you have no say", it meant that you have no standing within that organization and will probably not get a hearing with them, even with a bullhorn.

              Maybe that's what you should have said then. But it wasn't.

              Wait...
              What's that sound? Well I do believe Scorpiaux is starting up the ol' Backpedal Boogie!

               

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              Mike (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 6:51pm

              Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all. (for Mike)

              I have never posted that you or anyone else do not have full free speech rights nor have I stated that you shouldn't have an opinion and say what it is.

              This is simply untrue. From the beginning, you have repeatedly stated that we should stay quiet and shouldn't talk about this stuff. Your complaint has been over and over again that we should not be talking about this. I don't see how you can deny that with a straight face.

              In the above quote of myself, when I stated that "you have no say", it meant that you have no standing within that organization and will probably not get a hearing with them, even with a bullhorn.

              Those are two very different things and if you meant the latter, you should have said it. But, the thing is, you clearly did not mean the latter. None of us have ever said that we required a hearing from the RIAA. That is your strawman. We are stating our opinion. We are not demanding that the RIAA do anything. We are not demanding that anyone do anything. We are simply stating (and backing it up with plenty of evidence) why we believe they could do better. For that, your response has been: "keep quiet!"

              Contrary to your straw man, we are not demanding that anyone listen to us -- though, we will point out how they could have been better off had they listened to us. I'm not sure why that's a problem, but you seem to have trouble distinguishing between stating our opinion and demanding that people do something. I have previously commented on your reading comprehension, and once again, I would suggest that you take the time to read what we have actually written rather than blatantly assuming what you think we have written.

              It would make for a more interesting conversation.


              Early on you were trying to label me as an illiterate with no reading skills.


              It is for the reasons above. Your continued insistence on reading what you think we've said rather than what we have actually said, even once it was pointed out to you.

              Rest assured that I am not illiterate.

              You would do better proving that by responding to what we actually say rather than what you think we've said.

              But some of your adherants here have difficulty recognizing sarcasm and/or parody and/or satire when it is in plain view. My post about free airplane tickets, free cars, forgiveness on mortgages was just that. Yet there were responses to the effect that I was posting in a literal fashion.

              Actually, again, I believe that you are the one who had trouble understanding what was going on. No one actually took your examples seriously. They were quite clearly posted in jest, as an attempt to mock our position. But, all they actually did was display your ignorance of the points we discuss here re: the difference between scarce goods and infinite goods. The responses weren't taking you seriously as advocating those things, but merely responding (sometimes in a mocking way) to point out that you clearly do not understand this very basic and very fundamental point of economics -- despite it being pointed out to you before.

              That is one of the reasons why we question your ability to read and understand. It's because you have repeatedly misread what has been said to you.

              I "bother" to read and comment here because I am professionally affected by what is happening in those court fights over copyrights and intellectual property.

              And we are not? You say that we cannot talk about this because we don't have a stake. But you can because you do? You apparently don't realize how big a stake in this we all have.

              I have fought against some big boys who understand the concepts and against individuals who haven't got a clue. I have written and had published numerous articles over the years, one being on the issue of music file downloads.

              Wait, wait, wait! Are you saying that it's okay for YOU to say your thoughts on the topic, but we can't? Please explain.

              Among many other topics I have also had published a couple of articles on paperless voting machines. An excellent topic for consideration that might fit in with your subject matter here.

              Up in the upper right hand corner you might want to notice a "search engine." Go there and type in "e-voting" and you'll notice we've been talking about it for many years.

              It would be good if there were a response from someone with a differfent point of view who was articulate and was able and willing to post a non-emotional counter.

              You have yet to see me get emotional. Honestly, after twelve years of educating folks like yourself, making responses like this is one of the least emotional things I do.

               

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                Scorpiaux, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 8:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all. (for Mik

                An impartial reading of my posts and of your responses to them by someone completely disinterested in the subject matter and the participants would, I feel, on the subject of your accusations of my alleged attempts to tell you and your sycophants to "keep quiet" and "don't talk about your opinions" reveal that you have a reading and comprehension problem. More than once I encouraged you and others to basically sound off any way you choose, however you choose, and with whatever opinions you have. You, nevertheless, have totally failed to make note of any of several instances where I did this. I think that you must be operating on the premise that if you post that falsehood enough, it will be accepted as true or that it will actually become true. You really should consider having a neutral party look these exchanges over and give their observations. I have nothing to lose as this is not my forum nor is it part of my livelihood nor will it affect my credibility. But I think you have a lot to lose if you don't make some adjustments in your approach and therefore in your biased editorial-style review of controversial technical topics.

                As for your educating me, you don't have anything to teach. You need to return to the halls of academia and learn a little more.

                This is pathetic. I am not so much disappointed as surprised at how easily and quickly a web site such as this can become so disturbed over dissent. As such it is just another cyber rag, not a serious journal at all. Pity.

                 

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                  Mike (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:52pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: It's a promotion. That's all. (for

                  Scorpiaux, I will note, once again, that you did not respond to a single point we raised. You did not explain why you repeatedly accused us of siding with pirates, when we did not. You did not explain why you said that we were trying to destroy the RIAA when we are not. You did not explain why you said we are trying to make it more difficult for content creators to earn a living when we are not. You did not explain why you think we're arguing that the Washington Post and the RIAA are colluding (?!?).

                  An impartial reading of my posts and of your responses to them by someone completely disinterested in the subject matter and the participants would, I feel, on the subject of your accusations of my alleged attempts to tell you and your sycophants to "keep quiet" and "don't talk about your opinions" reveal that you have a reading and comprehension problem. More than once I encouraged you and others to basically sound off any way you choose, however you choose, and with whatever opinions you have.

                  I will now quote from Scorpiaux:

                  "Unless you are a stockholder, owner, or officer in a corporation, you can rant all you wish about what they do and how they do it, but unless they are breaking the law, you have no say in it."

                  "Don't tell them how to run their business."

                  "Don't like the current time frames granted to creators? Talk to your Congressman." (which doesn't directly tell us not to speak up, but suggests that advocating here isn't part of the process that gets politicians to change the laws, and that we should only speak directly to politicians, rather than advocating our views here).

                  "Where I draw the line is in telling someone else how to run their business, how to make adjustments to changes in the marketplace, how to cope with new technologies, etc. If you are a stockholder or an officer, you have that right." (otherwise, apparently, we do not have that right)

                  "You can petition Congress for a redress of grievances" (Again, suggesting that we cannot speak out, unless it's directly to Congress)

                  Am I really misreading all of those statements? It appears your entire complaint with what we say is that we're saying it. You repeatedly say that if we don't like something we should be talking to Congress about it, rather than here -- as if talking about it here does not have an impact on legislation.

                  I think that you must be operating on the premise that if you post that falsehood enough, it will be accepted as true or that it will actually become true.

                  If that were the case, wouldn't I erase all of your posts to the contrary? I am willing to defend my position, and I note that you still fail to respond to the points I have raised about yours.

                  I have nothing to lose as this is not my forum nor is it part of my livelihood nor will it affect my credibility. But I think you have a lot to lose if you don't make some adjustments in your approach and therefore in your biased editorial-style review of controversial technical topics.

                  Wait a second. You have just provided me unsolicited advice on how to better myself. According to your own statements, you should not be doing that.

                  As for your educating me, you don't have anything to teach.

                  And that is why you failed to respond to all of the factual errors I pointed out that you made? That is why you still don't appear to understand basic economics? That is why you still don't know the difference between a fixed cost and a marginal cost? That is why you still don't understand the difference between an infinite good and a scarce good?

                  You can choose not to learn, but that is your choice. To say I cannot educate you may be true, but that does not mean you have nothing to learn.

                  I am not so much disappointed as surprised at how easily and quickly a web site such as this can become so disturbed over dissent.

                  Scorpiaux, I am not "disturbed" over dissent. Look around a little bit. There has been dissent on this site for over a decade. I am simply pointing out where you are uninformed. You appear to be disturbed that we have pointed out the flaws in your reasoning, as it is based on popular myths and falsehoods about intellectual property. You seem to be the one who is unsure how to deal with people who actually know more on the subject than you do. I am sorry that it makes you react this way, but if you were to react less emotionally, look at the factual errors you have made, look at the research we have pointed you to, you might realize that maybe, just maybe, it is you who have been mistaken.

                  As such it is just another cyber rag, not a serious journal at all. Pity.

                  And, yes, as a last resort, go for an ad hominem attack. Luckily, it is not you who we need to impress.

                   

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:04pm

          Who's attacking the copyright owners?

          You are deeply confused. No one is attacking the copyright "owners" here. Infact, many of us would like to see the creative talent get a bigger piece of the action. Many of us see the RIAA as parasitic dinosaurs that need to whacked with an asteroid so a more economically efficient model can take it's place.

          Make your mad money, then let the next generation do their thing.

          When only get cranky when copyright starts to get perpetual and the re-distributors are trying to ruin families over works that should nearly be PD already (like Journey).

          Compared to the RIAA, the consumer is an amateur thief.

           

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    Vincent Clement, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:14am

    Say no to the DMCA

    Here in Canada, where there is no DMCA (yet), the increase in annual sales of digital music files exceeded the US, and our decline in physical media was less than the US.

    So, despite the dire predictions from the CRIA - the lobby group that represents foreign record companies in Canada - the music industry is thriving in Canada, despite the lack of additional laws and/or levies.

     

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      Old Guy, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 1:49pm

      Re: Say no to the DMCA

      sheesh you're in Canada. Talk about hypocrisy, That's the home of all those film piracy plots....


      j/k

       

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    Colin Suttie, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    If Thom Yorke accused me of being sad I think I'd have to kill myself - he has to be the most miserable millionaire in the world.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:54am

    Heh

    Done with your trolling for the day Scorpiaux?
    Chrono, I know you already know this from your previous posts, but just to point it out to him since he won't understand, the comparison he is making is even farther off than a car to your TV. Considering that your TV and a car are both physical, unlike the music online.

    Re #7 is pretty dang funny. Thanks for the laugh. =)

     

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    Comment Judge, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 11:08am

    Winner

    RIAA Overseer, you win best comment of the day.

     

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    AG (profile), Jan 8th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

    In Rainbows

    Radiohead's digital pre-release of "In Rainbows" was an unqualified success. Most notably, it is a sensational album, not an experiment with some throw-away tracks. It's among the band's best all-time albums and among the best albums released by any artist in 2007.

    Wired magazine recently printed an interview of Thom Yorke by David Byrne which revealed some of the nuances of Radiohead's strategy (as well as a comprehensive survey of the business models currently available to recording artists). Three facts stand out: the online sales of In Rainbows alone, even with the name-your-price option, exceeded the combined online sales of every prior album the band has ever produced; Radiohead owns all the rights to the master recording, virtually unheard of in the recording industry; and the physical CD release is a limited licensing deal, not actually a release by the band itself.

    This fall's release of In Rainbows was one of the rare cases where a heavily pre-publicized event actually lived up to the hype.

     

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      Scorpiaux, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:01pm

      Re: In Rainbows

      Behind the subjective words may be a great success story. But they may be covering up hard facts. For instance, AG states, "Three facts stand out: the online sales of In Rainbows alone, even with the name-your-price option, exceeded the combined online sales of every prior album the band has ever produced..."

      I haven't read the interview, but in this post it is possible that "the combined online sales of every prior album the band has ever produced" might be numbered in the hundreds or thousands due to all kinds of factors. Secondly, "... the online sales of In Rainbows alone..." might exceed the first number by one and the statement would be true. In order for this assessment that the "digital pre-release of 'In Rainbows' was an unqualified success." some hard numbers should be clear and unambiguous. They are not present in AG's post. Are they in the interview? If not, where can we see those numbers? Facts, people, facts. Numbers, people, numbers. Real verifiable facts and numbers. The last statement in AG's post carries with it a caveat. "... one of the rare cases where a heavily pre-publicized event actually lived up to the hype." The word to focus on is "hype." All of this might be no more than sophisticated hype. I would add that we also do not have any verifiable cost figures to decide whether or not this is not just a 2008 "pipe dream."

      In the harsh world of business, you have to look at the numbers. You have to pay attention to them. If the album is a great piece of work, but the numbers are not good, there will be a quick end to this approach. If the album is so-so, but the numbers show a profit, the band plays on. If the album is a dog, bye-bye Radiohead. On the positive side, the album could be sensational, the numbers could show a big profit, and concert offers skyrocket. Only time will tell.

       

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    Ron, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Here's that link to the Wired interview.

    http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_yorke

    Byrne: "And letting people choose their own price?"

    Yorke: "That was [manager Chris Hufford's] idea. We all thought he was barmy. As we were putting up the site, we were still saying, "Are you sure about this?" But it was really good. It released us from something. It wasn't nihilistic, implying that the music's not worth anything at all. It was the total opposite. And people took it as it was meant. Maybe that's just people having a little faith in what we're doing."

     

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    Overcast, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Bleh, for some reason the whole thing stinks of a RIAA stunt.

     

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    identicon
    Melted Metal Web Radio, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:13pm

    The Game Has Changed, And So Must The Major Labels

    From what I have heard, and someone please correct me if I am wrong on this information, Radiohead has earned an average of $2.18 per download from their site during this offer, with an estimated 2.5 million downloads (my assumption 'at this moment' is that this is incorrect, but let's use it for analytical purposes). The average act that is signed to a major label makes from $0.45 to $1.50 per copy sold (depending on the acts's media profile). From those revenues come the deductions of band salary advances, promotional costs, tour support, recording production costs, and any distribution costs. So an act that sells 1 million copies at a per unit pay-out at $1.00 may gross $1 million. But after all the advances, that number may be "zilch". One has to remember that all ramp-up expenses are pulled for the initial sales, and that sales over 500,000 to 1 million copies yield more money.

    Now let's look at Radiohead's efforts here. Using the above numbers, Radiohead got 2x the average heavyweight, per unit, pay-out and have complete control over promotional expenditures. With over $5 million in gross revenues paid directly to the band, I am sure they can pay their up-front tour costs with a few 'pennies' to spare. Dispute the label driven articles and blogs that say this has been a failure, this is a financial model that other bands can hang their hat on. Prince has already done this several times with mind-boggling success (why haven't we heard more about that??). It is simply time for labels to come up with distribution deals that are a better offering than a band can pull off themselves, and create financial models that deal with the new realities of the web marketplace. To be clear- we still need major record companies. But the game has changed, and so must they.

    Melted Metal Web Radio
    http://www.meltedmetal.com/

     

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