I am sure that if you read this blog, or other blogs with a similar focus, you've doubtlessly heard about British band Radiohead's new, open pricing experiment. If you have not, here is the overview. There is no price for their new album "In Rainbows". You as a user choose the price that you are willing to pay for the album and there are no limits. If you want it for free, it's yours. If you want to pay $100, they'll take your money.
While this has been covered by every newspaper and blogger from here to Timbiktu, I want to add a slightly different take on things. I want to tell you about my viewpoint as a FAN. I love Radiohead. I've seen them in concert 5+ times (they don't tour a lot) and I own every album they have produced. When this situation came up, I immediately thought about my valuation of their album using past experience and emotional connection to the band.
So what am I going to pay? $25 (USD). That's more than I've ever payed for a single release album. Why am I paying so much? Here is my thinking. The band has provided me countless hours of enjoyment over the years, set memories to music and given it their all from the CD to the stage. I also know that in the past when I purchase one of their albums, the band gets completely hosed. I remember reading at one point that only about $.50 from each album sale goes to the band members, so this is a chance to make sure they get what they deserve.
I think there are a number of loyal fans that will pay top dollar for this release, but I know there are many who will pay less or take the album for free. (Not sure how it will pan out financially for the band or how they'll be tracked on the charts.) Free isn't necessarily bad though. I guarantee the next time they come to town a lot more people will know who they are and will attend the show, because they'll have their music on their iPod.
Radiohead is a fairly broad-reaching band, but they're not in the mainstream like a U2 or Dave Matthews Band. That would be the ultimate social experiment...can this open pricing model work on a mass, global scale?
This could signal a fundamental shift in the music industry where the content will be the giveaway/promotion as bands make their money touring? What's more profitable, making $.50 a copy or introducing millions of people to your brand?
[UPDATE:] Check out Mack's post with some results and more thinking on this topic.