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38% of Downloaders Paid For Radiohead Album 562

Posted by kdawson
from the fanatical-fan-base dept.
brajesh sends us to Comscore for a followup on the earlier discussion of Radiohead making $6-$10 million on their name-your-own-cost album "In Rainbows" — with the average price paid being between $5 and $8. Comscore analyzes the numbers: "During the first 29 days of October, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the 'In Rainbows' site, with a significant percentage of visitors ultimately downloading the album. The study showed that 38 percent of global downloaders of the album willingly paid to do so, with the remaining 62 percent choosing to pay nothing... Of those who were willing to pay, the largest percentage (17 percent) paid less than $4. However, a significant percentage (12 percent) were willing to pay between $8-$12, or approximately the cost to download a typical album via iTunes, and these consumers accounted for more than half (52 percent) of all sales in dollars."
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38% of Downloaders Paid For Radiohead Album

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  • by White Flame (1074973) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:13PM (#21259285)
    did they make more or less profit than what they would have made with the standard sales method?
    • by Selfbain (624722) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:15PM (#21259327)
      I would imagine they only get 1-2 dollars per CD from a label so probably a lot more.
      • by no_opinion (148098) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:51PM (#21259865)
        Here, check my math:
        38% of 1.2 million people pay $6 = $2.736 million.

        According to this article http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001017730 [billboard.com], their last album sold over 900,000 copies in the US alone, so let's guess they did 1.5 million (which would be a pretty poor showing, internationally). At $2/album from the major that means that they'd get $3 million.

        So depending on whether the download cannibalized their CD sales this time around, they might come out slightly ahead.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jinxidoru (743428)
          Bare in mind that the album has only been out for a short-time. I can't imagine that all of those 1.5 million purchases occurred in the same time-frame as we are looking at so far for this release. For example, I will probably go download the album but have not gotten around to doing so. Therefore, the $2.736 number will be increasing. And $2.736 is pretty close to $3.
      • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @08:30PM (#21261559)

        TFA seems to be comparing Radiohead's model to iTunes and traditional record sales, which is a bit confusing. Given that it doesn't take sales of the disks into account, the only fair comparison would be strictly between Radiohead and iTunes/<your_favourite_provider_of_lossy_compressed_files>. On those terms I would be surprised if this new model isn't hugely more profitable for Radiohead and cheaper for consumers.

        If you take a different view of their model and consider the downloads to be predominantly promotional, they have more than paid for their promotional material before the actual product even ships. They have also made more than enough to pay for pressing upfront as well as any further promotion.

        While a lot of the recent publicity is generated by novelty, I think online busking is an excellent long term method of promoting quality recordings.

        The disc sets sell at 40 pounds each, from which they have to pay for pressing, printing, handling and shipping. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but I know locally 40 pounds (~$A90) would easily cover those costs for runs as small as 1000 and internationally they will probably sell a lot more than that. Radiohead has elimitated the risk of over-producing discs by offering a pre-order model and they don't have to give 98-99% to a record company.

        I don't think TFA can make sensible analysis until after the discs ship. It's definitely an interesting model.

    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:18PM (#21259387) Homepage Journal

      did they make more or less profit than what they would have made with the standard sales method?

      Standard sales method:(per $)
      $.53 to record company
      $.27 to record execs' Mercedes fund
      $.18 to record execs' cigar fund
      $.02 to Radiohead.

      New distribution method:(per $)
      $.01 to bandwidth costs
      $.99 to Radiohead

      meah I made that all up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Threni (635302)
        > meah I made that all up.

        So did comScore;

        > the results of the study are based on data obtained from comScore's worldwide database of 2 million people who have provided comScore with explicit
        > permission to monitor their online behavior.

        How representative is comScore's list of monitored users of the sort of people who download Radiohead cds?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Goffee71 (628501)
      I think the point is they get 100% of the money from any sales and control over their work, rather than the few cents/yen/whatever they'd get from a record company... I paid a couple of quid for it because a) I don't know much Radiohead stuff but b) want more acts to release music this way... Sure you can only do this if you have a decent fan base, perhaps the next act will put a minimum £/$2 price on it to discourage the freeloaders/guarantee some income but its got to be better than rushing a recor
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AvitarX (172628)
        "b) want more acts to release music this way."

        The problem is that once a lot (or eve a few more) people do it this way the I want more people to do this demographic is not guaranteed (works the same way with Linux games I imagine, the developers of cross platform games probably get a large (more than the 1-3% of users) Linux base, but because we want to encourage them (at least I know I've purchased over priced and old games for $30+ instead of the $10 bargin bin it would have been).

        Radiohead reaped massive
      • How many people paid THIS TIME to prove a point to the RIAA...and will pay little or nothing next time, or the time after, or the time after that?

        Do you really think people will continue to pay $10 for something they can get for nothing? Neither do I. In the end, this incident is a gimmick with no sustainability.
        • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:28PM (#21260265) Journal
          Do you really think people will continue to pay $10 for something they can get for nothing? Neither do I. In the end, this incident is a gimmick with no sustainability.

          When you go out to dinner how much do you tip? 15%? 20%? Why pay that when you can get it for nothing? Is it out of guilt? For future service? Either of those motives work well enough in this case. And unlike the waiter they don't need everybody to do it. Just a reasonable portion.

          Comparing it to current sales and profits is not very meaningful. The industry is changing, and so is the profit model.

          • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:18PM (#21261947)
            These payments are anonymous. Tipping is not. I bet a lot of people wouldn't tip if they could do it without showing their face...and then, of course, restaurants would finally move away from our stupid tipping system itself.

            In anonymous situations, many people are jerks. How often does someone cut you off when driving? How often does someone barge in front of you in a line at a store or restaurant. What is the difference? Anonimity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      Well six+ million dollars from a single album isn't too bad. Most bands probably make less then $2 per album so that would be three million albums sold.
      I have never heard anything by RadioHead. I almost want to download the a song or two and if I like them then pay for the album. The downside is I would be counted as both a no pay and as a pay.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Myopic (18616)
        I have never heard anything by RadioHead

        OMG, dude, do yourself the favor. (It's Radiohead, by the way.) Radiohead is in my top three favorites, and most fans have them at number one. Their album Kid A is my favorite album of all time -- er, maybe second favorite. Try Kid A and Amnesiac to start. If you think those are the best albums ever, you are with me; if you think they are too experimental, then go back and try their earlier albums, OK Computer and Pablo Honey, which played to a wider audience (but wer
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:14PM (#21259291)

    I really don't think it's fair that Radiohead is just giving it away over the internet... Record companies put in a lot of hard work and effort to make a band successful, and I think it's really dishonest to just cut them out like that.

    Perhaps its time the government did something about it, before the record industry starts losing even more revenue and therefore jobs.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:14PM (#21259293) Homepage Journal
    Got radio head?
    Listen, Fred:
    RF containment
    Could leave you dead
    Drop the insulation
    And broadcast, instead.
    Burma Shave
  • by Aslan72 (647654) <psjuvin@@@ilstu...edu> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:14PM (#21259299)
    One thing this didn't account for was advertising. A band that big probably had a huge advertising budget in their past that they no longer had to worry about because being the first ones out of the block, they caught a bit more press on the Internet. There were probably a number of new radiohead fans that were made because of this that will come back and buy future CDs. They might have taken a hit financially, but I think the payoff is going to be bigger in the long run.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:18PM (#21259371) Homepage
      Actually you raise a good point on the advertising costs. If they did not spend much in terms of advertising, then their costs would be lower and it's possible that they ended up with similar or even more profits. Having an already established name would help, of course, along with the free publicity, but hey, that's savvy too. But yeah, no idea how that actually played out.
    • by jkabbe (631234)
      Did they take a hit financially, though? How much would Radiohead have received from even one of the more generous agreements with a music label?

      By hosting their music on their own website they pretty much get to keep all that money themselves, don't they (aside from paying their ISP and the costs to produce the album, of course)?
  • After all is said and done, how does that compare to the standard take of the band's share? Typically $1-2 per album sold right? Sounds like they made out pretty well.
  • it worked (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mutagenic (1105159) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:15PM (#21259313)
    at 6-10 mil this experiment work. Radiohead made more in album sales via download than they have on other albums. Plus this does not included what they will make in storefront sales.
  • The question being (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cheese_Grater (470961) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:15PM (#21259315)
    How many of those were people who downloaded it, gave it a listen and then went back and paid for it after they decided it was worth some cash.
    • by ODiV (51631)
      How many people downloaded and paid for it on one machine and then decided to download it to another (at work, on a laptop in a hotel, whatever)? There are several things online I end up downloading countless times because it's easier to get it off the net than it is to keep everything on me.
    • I downloaded it. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Erpo (237853)
      Yes, that could inflate the numbers of non-paying customers.

      I downloaded it for $0 too, and it didn't appeal to me at all. I wish I could "un-download" it, i.e. delete it from my hard disk and decrement their "$0 downloader" count.
  • I don't mind Radiohead's music, but I didn't pay for it either. Neither did I download it yet. It is not correct to say that only 12% of people will pay for music, only that 12% of people that wanted to hear RADIOHEAD's music paid for it. It was an experiment. There were more people going to the site to see what it was about or what the music is like than their are fans that wanted to buy the music IMO. That will significantly skew the statistics.

    As more bands do this, we will see what the average price is
    • Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rbarreira (836272)
      Either that or many people wanted to use this opportunity to make a point against the recording labels, and the results would be different if this became a standard practice.

      For some reason, I'm inclined towards the latter.
  • by El Lobo (994537) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:16PM (#21259351)
    I am the developer of a quite succesful shareware program. The program can be downloaded for free AND without limitations or nag screen. Nothing. It just works and the users would pay if they want. The "official" price is 25 USD. Counting the the "phoning home" update feature unique hits and the money that came in, I calculate that only a 10-12% of the user pays for the program.

    Well, of course, it culd be that not all the users are keeping the program, they may be testing, etc... but I am counting the hits that the server register from the same address within a month... So the program has being used a month more or less....

    So judging by that, music consumers have a more happy pocket than software users.

    • by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:23PM (#21259465) Homepage
      Either that, or many people wanted to use this opportunity to make a point against the recording labels, and the results would be different if this became a standard practice.

      For some reason, I'm inclined towards the latter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SydShamino (547793)
      I've paid for shareware I've used before, with prices up to $60-$70 or so. However, that top price was for a full-featured "best in class" development program (VideoReDo) or for a major customized database application (Living Cookbook). I wouldn't pay that much for a "utility" type of software as opposed to an "application" type of software. (I don't know what you sell.)

      It's possible that your customers feel that the program is worth something to them, but they just don't feel it's worth $25. Since you
    • by imbaczek (690596) <imbaczekNO@SPAMpoczta.fm> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:47PM (#21259813) Journal
      10% is a freaking lot. If everybody I know paid for Total Commander, the guy that made it would probably be a space tourist by now. Twice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Why not be smart and increase your sales...

      $19.95 is closer to a point that people gladly pay up for than $25.00 $14.95 will get even more people ponying up for it.

      I buy lots of shareware, hell I buy the $14.95 stuff after only 5 minutes of playing with it all the time. If your point is to make money then price it so it is an easier sale.

      Try a "special xmas sale at that price for 1 week. see how many people jump on it.
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:17PM (#21259359) Homepage

    the largest percentage (17 percent) paid less than $4
    If you are arbitrarily defining the range paid, it is completely meaningless to say "the largest percentage."

    For example, if I divide it in to two groups: those who paid less than $4 and those that paid more than $4, you could say that the largest percentage (83 percent) paid MORE than $4.

    Lies, damn lies.... and terrible journalism.
    • Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by C10H14N2 (640033)
      It would appear the spread was:

      $0.00 : 62%
      $0.01-4 : 17%
      $4.01+ : 21%

      Why four bucks is some magic number to someone, who knows. If broken in to equally as arbitrary but halfway sensible thirds, I'm sure it would look something exciting like:

      $00.00-00.00 : 62%
      $00.01-05.00 : 12.6%
      $05.01-10.00 : 12.6%
      $10.01-15.00 : 12.6%

      But, that would make for a terribly boring PowerPoint presentation.
  • Impressive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imstanny (722685) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:17PM (#21259365)
    The varying statistics of user behavior (from the degrees of payment to none at all) make a strong point Against RIAA's studies, which are used to determine the size of the damages they wish to seek from defendants of illegal downloads.
  • yes, and..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:18PM (#21259381) Homepage
    ...And with all the free publicity, EMI (their old label) has decided to cash in-- selling their back catalog on a USB drive that retails for TWICE what the CD box set costs.

    That pretty much explains the music "industry" in a nutshell.
    • Re:yes, and..... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:48PM (#21260489) Journal

      ...And with all the free publicity, EMI (their old label) has decided to cash in-- selling their back catalog on a USB drive that retails for TWICE what the CD box set costs.

      To be fair, there is a small diff...

      That USB drive contains .wav files - that is, an uncompressed, unadultered, 'yes-you-can-tear-that-bitch-up-without-losing-signal' format.

      For someone doing mixes and modding, that's (almost) a godsend format. Not as good as the pure MOD files mind, but nice 2nd place to 'em.

      (of course, IIRC Trent Reznor gave a lot of his away in MOD formats --for free-- back in the day, so...)

      /P

  • drudgereport.com [drudgereport.com] is a right-leaning website frequented by media execs

    you see the very first story linked as:

    "Most Fans Paid $0 for Radiohead Album..." [breitbart.com]

    (breitbart is a right-leaning media outlet as well)

    ps: right now being 4:15 pm, 11/06/2007

    what's funny is how a pro-file sharing website, like slashdot, can spin a positive out of the numbers, and an anti-file sharing website can spin a negative

    spin, spin, spin

    just my two cents: radiohead probably made more money off their album with this internet tip jar concept than if they signed with a label, considering how the companies nickel and dime artists to death. actually, radiohead has some clout, so maybe that's not 100% true. but rather, an unknown band would DEFINITELY make more money with free albums and an internet tip jar than signing with a label

    hopefully more and more bands will realize this, and a critical mass of hot young bands will coalesce such that one will consider doing business with the defunct music labels ever again

    then the RIAA attack dogs will sue up and coming artists to sign with the music labels? (half-joking, i wouldn't put it past them)
    • by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:58PM (#21259947) Homepage Journal
      The problem is that most small bands don't have the exposure that Radiohead does. "During the first 29 days of October, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the 'In Rainbows' site."

      Small bands sign with a label not just to get a loan, but also to get promotion services. Aside from giving you a loan and pressing your CD's, the company might:
        - contact all the radio stations where your music would fit and try to hype you up to get airplay
        - arrange for you to open for bigger touring bands also on the label
        - send out your CD to get reviewed by various magazines etc
        - use their network and connections to spread your name around

      You could do this all by yourself, but it's actually a lot of work, and many bands prefer to "focus on the music" (meaning they're not interested in the business aspects, just the music aspects of being a band... sadly it's the business aspects that make money - playing beautiful music on the street won't make money without the business aspect of putting down a hat for donations).

      Radiohead did this all themselves - the did the record company's job. They hired their own publicists directly, contracted with distributors (the website storefront developers, and whoever is manufacturing their box sets). They still had to promote their music using their own network of contacts, though their own name is already very popular. They're big enough that industry eyes were already on them, so they don't really need a record label to lend a hand by begging for magazines to review their new album.

      So what worked for Radiohead doesn't necessarily translate to smaller bands trying to break out onto the scene.

      Personally, I still think what new bands sacrifice for their record deals is by far not worth it, compared to just doing all that stuff themselves, especially early on in a band's career.

      In the end it's really all about the music. If the songs you write are really good, then even recording them by yourself will still produce desirable music. Then once you're making some money touring and selling your semi-pro quality CD after shows, you'll have more clout when arranging terms for your second album's national distribution with a major label. That's because now they need you more than you need them, and because you bring your own fan base you pose much less risk to the company than the average band.

      The mistake that many bands make is if you write really good music but let a label handle all the business starting early on - it's like selling your company's stock the day you open your doors, then watching the other investors get rich as your company gets popular and successful.

      But if the songs you write suck so much that no one goes to your concerts and no one buys your CDs after the show, then, when you sign a record deal, don't be surprised that the record company thinks it deserves a huge share, because after all you were bombing before they got involved, and you're more like a studio musician to them than a gotta-sign breakthrough band.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:19PM (#21260171) Homepage
      If you want to look at the numbers without spin, it's simple: Radiohead pulled in 6-10 million bucks.

      That's the bottom line, that's the number that matters, and without any spin it's clear that this is a good, positive number.

  • More data needed. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:19PM (#21259399) Homepage Journal
    We'll only really know the full impact of this if/when other acts start doing it. I don't really like Radiohead, but I threw them $5 just for shaking things up in a good way. Still, it's obvious most people who bought this album were Radiohead fans. The real question is, how much further will this distribution model go if/when other major fanbases are given the same chance?
  • No surprises (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cally (10873) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:20PM (#21259413) Homepage
    So things went pretty much as you'd have expected from reading the comments on a typical RIAA / music / copright story on Slashdot, six or seven years ago - say, when Napster happened. Back then, those of us who that a band could give away their material, and if they were any good, some significant fraction of the audience would willingly pay for it --enough to make it a viable approach -- were seen as loony swivel-eyed furry-toothed freetards, if I remember correctly.

    Hmmmm.

    Three cheers for Radiohead, at any rate.

  • by sheph (955019) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:20PM (#21259415)
    Of those who did not pay anything, how many would have purchased the album if it had not been available for free download? Between that, and the minimal compensation from a standard record contract I'd call this endeavor a success. I also think that if this model took off there might be more of a social push to encourge cheapskates to support the bands they listen to.
  • I Paid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:26PM (#21259507) Homepage
    I've been an avid Radiohead fan for years now, and when I saw this I was delighted someone had stepped up and realised the change in the state of the music industry. I paid 5 quid for it, and I did so to say "good idea, I'm willing to pay" and I don't regret one penny of it.

    Kudos to Radiohead, and I hope those fat cats at the RIAA and related Music Labels take heed.
  • by kasek (514492) <ckasek@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#21259571)
    You can spin the numbers any way you want...

    17% paid less than $4? Well, that means that of the 38% that paid, 21% paid more than $4. What does $4 have to do with anything at all? It is a completely arbitrary number.

    The numbers that would be important are:
    Of the 62% who paid nothing, how many of them would have bought the disc at retail at launch?
    Of the 38% who paid something, how many of them would have bought the disc at retail at launch? How much more / less did they pay than if they bought it at retail?

    Not to mention that they will still sell physical CDs, which they stand to make more money off of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Volante3192 (953645)
      And how many people actually cost Radiohead money by donating less than what the charge fee ended up being?

      One donation of $10 might cancel out 10 donations of $1...

      (Numbers pulled completely from ass, plus I can't remember if they put a minimum on that just to cover the fees)
  • Was it just me? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by minniger (32861) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:32PM (#21259587)
    Or was the website strange enough that I was inherently unwilling to give them ANY of my personal info, let alone my CC number?

    I like the band, and I am willing to wade through any number of website disasters that reflect a given bands 'taste'. But when it comes to giving my money to someone I'd like something nice, normal and boring.

    But that's just me.

  • by sneakyimp (1161443) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:34PM (#21259633)

    A lucky band might get a deal whereby they are paid 15% of revenues *after the record label recoups it investment*. Costs to be recouped can include nearly anything: secretaries, fat cat lunches, photography and printing costs, air conditioning, parking, coffee. You name it. Perhaps most importantly, the label has to shell out a pretty hefty percentage of revenues to the distributors and manufacturers whether they be a disc manufacturer or iTunes.

    My band had a record distributed through V2 records and I believe our tiny label was *supposed* to get paid about $2 per record. Despite selling a few thousand records, we never got paid a dime because they claimed they didn't recoup the cost of their sales department selling our record to Target, Best Buy, etc.

    I'll admit my band isn't as popular as radiohead, but let's do a little arithmetic. Suppose radiohead sells 1 million copies of their record at $20 a pop. That's $20 million dollars. Let's further suppose they get an extremely generous (nay unheard-of!) deal whereby they're paid 20% of gross after the label recoups their 'investments'. Let's suppose they get an amazing distribution deal that only siphons off 10% of gross revenues. Hell let's go crazy and assume that the record label doesn't expect to recoup anything and pays radiohead their percentage from the first record sold.

    20% of $20 million is $4 million

    take 10% of that and give it to iTunes and that leaves $3.6 million dollars

    I'd bet my right arm that radiohead have made out like bandits on this.

    For some interesting reading on the crooked record business, I would suggest Donald Passman's book All You Need to Know About the Music Business [amazon.com]

    • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:02PM (#21259985) Homepage Journal

      My band had a record distributed through V2 records and I believe our tiny label was *supposed* to get paid about $2 per record. Despite selling a few thousand records, we never got paid a dime because they claimed they didn't recoup the cost of their sales department selling our record to Target, Best Buy, etc.

      I worked for Universal Music Group for a while, building a royalty calculation engine, and I can tell you that your experience is the norm. I got different numbers from different sources, but between 80% and 95% of albums never recoup, so the artists never see any money outside of their advance (if they got one). The ideal for the record companies is to keep it this way, so they can give the band as little in advances as they can get away with, and keep all of the rest.

      I would suggest Donald Passman's book All You Need to Know About the Music Business

      Seconded. Great book. It's actually the one that UMG execs handed me and told me to read for background information.

      • by sneakyimp (1161443) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:14PM (#21260107)
        I feel I should point out that V2 didn't give us an advance--not one penny. Our record label paid the entire cost of the recording and PAID them for distribution (somewhere around $10k I believe). There's no way they put $30,000 worth of effort into selling our record. Those people are crooks and always have been. Which is not to suggest that I think *you* are a crook - on the contrary. A very dear friend of mine used to work for Interscope and described to me how a certain nameless exec would ask for a print of EVERY PHOTO from a photo shoot just so he didn't have to browse them on a computer. Cost: $10,000. These companies are toast if they don't change. You don't need a million-dollar Neve board to record a record any more. You don't need a distribution company to reach your audience. It is with great pleasure that I watch the demise of this corrupt industry. Perhaps they will find some way to continue existing as providers of publicity.
        • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:45PM (#21261067) Homepage Journal

          Which is not to suggest that I think *you* are a crook - on the contrary.

          Oh, I felt quite good about it. The system I worked on would have increased the amount of money paid to artists, by implementing royalty calculations for several common contract clauses that the previous system couldn't handle. Whenever the labels write a contract they can't actually implement (which is very common), they choose to approximate it with a calculation that favors them. They don't bother to tell the artist that, of course, and the only way the artist finds out is by paying a team of auditors big bucks to go through all of the records and do the calculations themselves. Even then, the label just offers a "settlement", rather than actually paying up. The settlement is calculated to be just large enough that it's clearly not worthwhile for the artist to sue.

          I said "would have increased" because the system was never actually deployed. Oh, well, my employer took UMG's money at an extravagant hourly rate for six months, so it's a little less in their pockets. Some might argue "well, they're just going to pass it on to the fans or take it out of the artists", but they're already screwing the artists just as hard as they can, and they're already charging more than the market will actually bear for music (a couple of studies have shown that they could make more money by lowering the prices), so I'm pretty confident it came out of the coke & hookers budget.

          It is with great pleasure that I watch the demise of this corrupt industry.

          I agree wholeheartedly. All the more so after seeing how they operate in gory detail.

          Perhaps they will find some way to continue existing as providers of publicity.

          I hope it's other people who find a way to make a living providing publicity and arranging shows, but you're probably right.

  • Skued Numbers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OVDoobie (887621) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:35PM (#21259657)
    I tried to buy the album from the US, my bank declined the charges. When I called them to find out why they said a lot of fraudulent charges come from that part of the world and would not allow me to buy the album. How many of the folks who didn't pay for it actually "couldn't" pay for it?
  • by ilikeyouanyways (1001359) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:42PM (#21259729)
    I view these results as a significant success for a new distribution model. But there are at least two things that make this experiment flawed and that limited how much money they've made off of In Rainbows:

    Site Usability The website where you buy/download the albums is REALLY hard to navigate and understand. They don't even make clear that you set your own price. Had I not known beforehand that you could set the price, I would've abandoned the site because it looked broken.

    Can't Purchase After Download If you download the album for free (like I did), but then decide you like it and want to pay for it, YOU CAN'T! Basically they let you have one download per email address. So unless you have another address handy to use the second time, you can't retroactively pay for your first download. That's just silly. Of course some of us want to decide whether we like it or not before handing over some cash, so this is a significant feature flaw.

    So given these two significant things were hampering sales of the album, I'm actually pretty optimistic about the model. The next artist that does this and gets the site experience right and supports a "delayed" purchase, will make even more.

  • Overlap (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:44PM (#21259747)
    I wonder what is the overlap between the percentages, I mean some people could not pay anything, decide they like the album then come back to the site and pay for the download.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:45PM (#21259765) Homepage Journal
    It's easy to sell things when you're already famous. That's what the record labels do: they make you famous. They put you in record stores and on the radio.

    So I don't really care who downloads the albums of famous people. There are plenty of brilliant bands out there who you've never heard of and won't download their albums even when they give them away (and they often do).

    Yeah, a bunch of famous people got in the newspaper and made a bunch of money off of it. Big deal.
  • by fyrie (604735) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @05:51PM (#21259855)
    On October 18th my band put our new EP up on our website for free with a donate link.
    Here [stellarvector.com]

    Results to Date
    70 downloads
    5 donations
    % of downloaders making a donation: 7%
    Smallest donation: $2
    Largest donation: $12
    Average donation: $6.80

    As a poster suggested to me in the last thread about Radiohead, I'm not going to quit my day job.

    • by Fireye (415617) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:03PM (#21260005)
      There's a big difference psychologically between:

      Putting up a free download link, and having a donate button
      OR
      Having an order form that explicitly lets you type in $0 for the purchase price.

      Your method will not work because the audience at large feels no obligation to to "donate". Radioheads makes you feel like you ought to pay something, even if it's minimal. Those 62% must feel really bad about now, unless they didn't like the music, in which case they probably appreciate Radiohead for not charging them.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @06:39PM (#21260381)
    If Radiohead did not have record labels such as "XL, ATO, Parlophone and Capitol" marketing them or in essence providing seed funding/capital, would Radiohead have had the ability to make a name for themselves in today's internet era? My band gives away their music for free and do you think KROC in LA would tell the world that my band gives away our music for free? Nope. Radiohead was taking advantage of the marketing that had already been done (and yes they paid for it with the labels taking their cut of Radiohead's work).

    So how could you market your music? Mail CDs to the radio stations, doubt it. Battle of the Bands, local gigs, works fine but takes a while to build up a non-regional following, and even that might not lead to radio play. So you're still left with word of mouth.

    and this is where Radiohead cheated. Their word of mouth was spread via the mass media. I heard about it on not less than 3 radiostations. Radioheads "Can we get people to download something for free?" is not much different from a local ice cream shop offering a free scoop on their anniversary. Since the ice cream is free, I'll give it a try even if I normally don't eat ice cream in February. Sure I might return one day and purchase some on my own, or maybe i'll never go back there.

    While I envy Radiohead's experiment on downloading free music (or name your price), I think it would be far more interesting for a study to be done on the viability of the thousands of bands which do not already have an international following of giving away their music.

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