by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 18th 2007 5:21am
Karl writes in to point out that on Fortune/CNN's somewhat bizarre list of 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, number 59 is about Radiohead's decision to offer a name-your-own-price offering for its downloaded music. As CNN notes, "Can't wait for the follow-up album, 'In Debt." Ha ha. It then quotes the disputed Comscore numbers, suggesting that since only 38% of downloaders agreed to pay anything for the album, this is somehow a dumb move. I would argue that the only thing "dumb" here is the inclusion of this move on the list. CNN seems to think that Radiohead expected everyone to pay for the album, when even the band has clearly stated that this was a promotional move. Is CNN "dumb" for putting this article online for free? Of course not -- because they make money through other means, such as advertising. In the same way, Radiohead did quite well even if people downloaded the album for free. After all, even if the Comscore numbers are accurate, Radiohead still pulled in millions, distributed millions of tracks to fans all over the world with no promotional budget, got its name and its music talked about around the globe and found at the top of popular playlists everywhere, and got a tremendous amount of free advertising for its upcoming tour and CD box sets. Can you name a single band in the world that would turn that down? Hell, can you name a single Fortune/CNN editor who would turn that down if he were in Radiohead's shoes? Not unless he was pretty dumb. In fact, if Radiohead did anything dumb it was shutting off the download site.
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