Radiohead Tells Fans To Name Their Own Price For Latest Album Downloads; Gives Them A Reason To Pay

from the new-business-models dept

The band Radiohead is apparently coming out with a new album; the first after its original record deal was completed. It appears that, like many other musicians, they're realizing that the traditional recording industry business model doesn't quite make sense for them. While there was some buzz about an apparent hoax website about the band's new album, it turns out the real thing is a bit more interesting. That's because Radiohead is doing two smart things. It's telling fans they can name their own price for digital downloads. You just pay the band however much you think the downloads are worth and they'll be happy. But that's not all (though, that's what most folks are focused on). Rather than just offering up the content, they're also trying to give people a reason to actually buy something else. In this case, it's a "discbox," which will include the new album on both CD and vinyl, as well as an additional CD of seven extra songs and photos, artwork and lyrics. The whole thing will be packaged in a nice container. In other words, the band is following in the footsteps of folks like Trent Reznor, in realizing that the music is promotional for other stuff -- and you can still sell stuff if you make it worthwhile. In this case, Radiohead isn't really selling the "music." After all, you can get that for free. They're selling the full collection of stuff that comes with the music. Funny how it's the musicians, and not the record labels, who seem to realize that adding value and getting people to pay for it is a business model that beats suing fans.

Filed Under: business models, music
Companies: radiohead


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  1. identicon
    JGM, 1 Oct 2007 @ 6:03am

    The shareware model applied to music *is* pretty interesting. As others have pointed out, even at $5 or less per album "sold" the artist makes a lot more than they would with traditional distribution and pricing.

    As to the fancy package thing, well, it's a good theory, but problematic in the long run, because: 1. A big draw for such packages is the novelty/collector factor; if everyone started doing it that cachet would disappear quickly, and 2. the trend is so thoroughly *away* from delivery on physical mechanism that it's just too hard against the tide.

    Now, if someone can figure out a nifty combination of the two: download the basic tracks from the artist on the shareware model, and/or pay a set price for something extra, worthwhile, not gimmicky, and not file-shareable. Not sure what that is (stickers and t-shirts only get you so far), but whoever does will have the magic formula.

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