Space Ramblings

More Controversy Over Radiohead’s In Rainbows

The latest stats now show that in the US market only 40 percent of those who downloaded Radiohead’s In Rainbows chose to pay for it. This of course doesn’t count Bittorrent and other forms of outrightly illegal downloading. Radiohead’s experiment is now being pronounced as a failure, but it’s no more a failure than your local museum whose suggested charge isn’t mandatory.

From a common sense standpoint, Radiohead should not have allowed zero dollars to be an option. On the other hand, In Rainbows got attention at a time when CD sales are in decline and it made a good deal of money. Did it make less or more money than it would have otherwise is the question here.

Every business calculates a certain margin for losses, it’s been that way long before the internet for the music industry too and it’s regularly dishonest when the industry tries to pretend otherwise. Is In Rainbows a valid business model, in the end the data will have to decide that. It may be a valid approach for a band with Radiohead’s specific image and demographic for whom it is more important to be in touch with digital culture than to squeeze every penny out of the suckers the RIAA way.

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