I am one of the 40-odd per cent of people (according to a slightly spurious poll published this week) who actually ponied up some cash for the new Radiohead album. And in fact I paid slightly over the average for it. Why? I’m a great believer in bands going their own way and getting their music to the fans without needing a middleman. The release of IN RAINBOWS seemed a worthy exercise, and one I wanted to support. It was money well spent, not simply for altruistic reasons (yeah, yeah, I know, support your local mulitmillionaire rock band) but because it’s the best thing they’ve done since Kid A.
It’s interesting to read about the backlash/sneering/feigned surprise that yer average punter would decide not to pay any money at all for the music. These commentators clearly aren’t paying attention. It’s becoming an industry truism that “the album” is becoming little more than a loss leader for concert ticket and merchandise sales. For better or worse, people are out of the habit of paying for music. Why should they, when even twerps like me can configure a P2P client and snag stuff for free? But Radiohead are still laughing, as with no marketing campaign they’ve still managed to achieve 1.2 million hits in under a month, with a significant majority of visitors downloading the album. That’s brand awareness for you. Free publicity? Priceless! Thanks for doing all our advertising for us, blogosphere!
It’ll be interesting to see if the physical release, out early next year, offers any extra value. This is a strategy that I’m paying close attention to for reasons of my own. Let’s put it like this. The Radiohead approach doesn’t just have to be applied to music. Just ask Cory Doctorow. Or for that matter, Michael Moorcock.
while we’re on the Creative Commons tip, let’s have a bit of a mashup, shall we?