The Swarm

October 02, 2007

Radiohead: Tell us what you learn

TDS Editors

UPDATE: Radiohead responds:

“In response to purely speculative figures announced in the press regarding the number of downloads and the price paid for the album, the group’s representatives would like to remind people that, as the album could only be downloaded from the band’s website, it is impossible for outside organisations to have accurate figures on sales,” they explained.

The statement added: “However, they can confirm that the figures quoted by the company comScore Inc are wholly inaccurate and in no way reflect definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project.”

UPDATE: Chicago Trib: Radiohead fans freely enjoy group’s new album:

For 62 percent of the people who have downloaded the British band Radiohead’s “In Rainbows,” the cost to purchase the critically acclaimed music is nil, according to Internet tracking firm ComScore Inc.

The other 38 percent of buyers paid an average of $6 for the music, well below the typical $12 to $15 a purchaser pays for a CD at a retail store.

UPDATE: Radiohead Plans To Release Sales Numbers for ‘In Rainbows’ at Year-End:

When I called Radiohead’s longtime management company (Courtyard Management), they gave the first indication that Radiohead will in fact announce these numbers, but not for a while. If they can help it, we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to find out the full results of the experiment. The Courtyard rep’s exact words were, “there will be no numbers intentionally released until after Christmas.”

UPDATE: Gigwise

Gigwise has learnt that Radiohead have sold an amazing 1.2million copies of their seventh album ‘In Rainbows.’

The band and their long-term management company Courtyard Management have remained tight lipped about the exact sales figures, seemingly in a bid to add to keep a mysterious air around the album.

But speaking to a source close to the band last night, we’ve discovered that the Oxford band have achieved this monumental sales figure.

Based on The Times’ poll of 3,000 buyers, Radiohead stands to make roughly $9.6 million from digital sales of In Rainbows.

UPDATE: Agence France Presse

On Wednesday about a third of fans decided to pay absolutely nothing, according to The Times daily, citing a poll of 3,000 people who bought it from the website.

“I chose zero, but maybe if I had a chance to chip in 10 bucks, after I hear it if it’s great, then I would,” said one identified fan from Australia, shortly after downloading the album.

The average price chosen was four pounds—half the typical album price on online music retailing leader I-Tunes of around eight pounds—although 67 people paid more than 10 pounds, according to the poll.

UPDATE: Financial Times (10/11/2007):

Radiohead’s much-debated decision to let fans choose what they pay for its new album online is a promotional tactic to boost sales of compact discs, the band’s management said yesterday.

“If we didn’t believe that when people hear the music they will want to buy the CD, then we wouldn’t do what we are doing,” Bryce Edge of Courtyard Management told Music Week, the UK’s industry magazine.

The decision to release In Rainbows online and to allow buyers to pay as little as they like has been lauded by some analysts as a ground-breaking model for an industry struggling to compete with free illegal downloads.

As many as half of those who registered for the download had paid more than the minimum 45p transaction fee, Mr Edge indicated, but he described the initiative as “a solution for Radiohead, not the industry”, and defended the superior quality of CD recordings.

“You can’t listen to a Radiohead record on MP3 (the digital music file standard) and hear the detail; it’s impossible,” Mr Edge said. “We can’t understand why record companies don’t go on the offensive and say what a great piece of kit CDs are. CDs are undervalued and sold too cheaply.”

Radiohead will release the album on CD in January, and its managers hinted that the physical version might contain more material.

The band is already offering a Pounds 40 (Dollars 82) package of two CDs, two vinyl albums and a booklet.

The boxed set is sold only on its website, allowing the band to fix its price, Mr Edge admitted. “We can’t control how much Tesco will sell (a typical CD) for, nor can the record companies.”

The L.A. Times devotes a full editorial to Radiohead’s In Rainbows play today, and brings up a really good point:

The results of this experiment will be hard to judge unless the band reveals how many albums it sells and what people paid. It should share that information because it could be vital to the health of the music industry.

UPDATE: While no hard numbers were released, Radiohead says most people are paying for In Rainbows, and paying close to retail price:

Fans can pre-order the digital version of Radiohead’s upcoming In Rainbows album for any price they want, but most of them have ponied up an amount similar to what would be charged at a retailer, according to band spokesperson Murray Chalmers, who spoke with the BBC:

“Although the idea is that you can decide what you want to pay, most people are deciding on a normal retail price with very few trying to buy it for a penny.”

Chalmers also said that rather than choosing the digital-only version of the album, most pre-orders have been for the $80 “discbox” collection, which includes the CD, a second CD with extra material, a heavyweight vinyl version of the album, and a hardcover booklet with lyrics and other material.

UPDATE: Pay-what-you-want limit is £99.99:

A co-worker here at Lime Wire decided he wanted to pay $500 for the album. However, the online order form maxed out at £99.99, which came out to $205.81. Come on, Radiohead. People think you’re worth more than that.

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