Excuse the pun, but the fallout from Radiohead’s decision to release their latest album on a pay-what-you-want download basis from their website has been widespread. As an exercise in self-promotion, it’s hard to imagine a better stunt, as they made headlines across the national media, and even weeks afterwards are still featuring heavily in the big music blogs. I’m listening to the album for the first time as I write, being among the reported 62% of people who opted to pay nothing for the download. Radiohead haven’t released official figures for the revenue from their experiment, and XL Recordings will have to wait and see what effect the free download has on the sale of CD’s and Vinyl when they are released in January. There will undoubtedly be more lessons learnt and surprises reported on this story. What is sure is that all eyes, and ears are tuned into the radio(head).
Update: The original Comscore reportÂ claims an average per download purchase price of $2.26 – if we assume that half of the visitors to inrainbows.com downloaded, and (Comscore reports 1.2 million of these users so far), that’s 1.35 million USD straight into the band’s coffers. Consider that their setup costs on the website are likely to be in the four figure arena, and that they’re (hopefully) retaining all of this revenue and you can see that for the big players, self promotion makes sense.