Nov 7, 2007

Radiohead download figures begin to emerge

Sixty-two percent of the people who downloaded the new pay-what-you-like album from Radiohead, In Rainbows, in October paid nothing at all, including one Ann Powers, chief music critic of the Los Angeles Times, who said in an article in the paper that she didn’t have the credit card needed for the transaction.

I read her account about downloading
it for free in the print edition but it seems to have disappeared from the LA Times site. Did someone at LAT, the Recording Industry Assn. of America or Radiohead's management have a problem with Powers making this information public?

An admirer of Powers’ writing since her days at the
Village Voice and later the New York Times, I was a little surprised to read the story, thinking that it seemed like a questionable (although plainly legal) action for her to publicly disclose, given her stature and also in light of the story running the same week about Minneapolis single mom Jammie Thomas being sued $222,000 for "illegal file-sharing" by the RIAA.

It didn't help that Powers also wrote a story ridiculing Thomas' music tastes.

In all fairness, in the account I read, Powers said she had fully intended to pay for the download until she discovered she didn't have the appropriate card.

Anyway, had the figures on Monday and also the cryptic statement about “an unattributed source… saying 1.2 million albums had been shifted.”

The first concrete analysis of Radiohead’s innovative pay-what-you-like plan for latest album In Rainbows shows thirty-eight percent of those who downloaded the title indeed chose to pay something, while 62 percent kept their change in their pocket.

The average price paid was $6 (£2.88) on a globalised basis but Americans were more generous, coughing up $8.05 (£3.87) - factor in the freeloaders, however, and it’s more like an average $2.26 (£1.08) on a worldwide basis and $3.23 (£1.55) from Americans. The most common amount offered was below $4 (£1.92), but 12 percent were willing to pay between $8 (£3.84) and $12 (£5.77), around the typical cost of an album from iTunes.