No Surprises for Radiohead

“And, yes, it probably would give us perverse pleasure to say ‘f*** you’ to this decaying business model.”–lead singer Thom Yorke in the Telegraph

The Telegraph reports that Radiohead‘s recent gamble has paid off famously. Unbelievably, they chose to offer their latest album, In Rainbows for download for whatever price you choose. That’s right, $0 to whatever. “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one,” lead singer Thom Yorke told Time soon after the band’s contract ended in 2003.

My initial thoughts when I first heard of the plan earlier this month was that most of the downloads might be to people who were choosing to pay little to nothing for the album, but that the press attention would go a long way toward getting enough downloads to make it possible to profit at least as much as if they had chosen to go the traditional record label direction (not to mention spread their music and make new fans). But remarkably (and I have to admit to being shocked myself), the average person downloading the album is voluntarily choosing to pay approximately the amount that a regular CD would cost. Additionally, many people are choosing to purchase the limited edition boxed set (that includes vinyls!) at a whopping 40 British pounds. Wow!

[update: Purebuttons has just paid $1,000 for the album to support Radiohead’s challenge to the music industry…and here I am doing free advertising for them. Good job.]

[update: Silicon Alley Insider reports 1.3m downloads as of yesterday (Oct.12)]


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