Feeds

Why have Radiohead broken freetards' hearts?

One or two things you didn't know about In Rainbows...

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Radiohead made a low-bitrate version available several weeks ahead of the physical release of In Rainbows. The management even waived the credit card charge - and you could get the album, in its entirety, for free.

Such was the buzz around Radiohead's approach to market that few people noticed that it really wasn't very inspired. No one seemed to mind very much. Contractually free of their deal with EMI, the band signed with Beggars Group indie label XL Recordings to release the physical version - which went on to top the charts in the UK and the USA. Many fans paid twice for the same recording - and some of these are fans who'll complain about the music business' practice of getting us to pay for the same record twice as one format supersedes another.

How the honesty box worked

Despite investing £20,000 in new servers to cope with the demand for the digital preview, Radiohead benefited from the "honesty box" release in several ways. There's the one I've mentioned: the bet that people would pay twice - once for the preview, and again for the physical release.

There was an instant cash-flow dividend, too. There was no waiting around for a royalty statement from the Accounting Department of the Mega Label. And best of all, the renewed interest from overseas - particularly the United States - gave the band far higher royalties than they'd gain from a physical release with a major label.

So although fewer fans put less money into the honesty box than many people claimed, it didn't really matter. Enough had done so to recoup the one-off costs - and the album was available as a sampler for weeks.

But one-offs, by definition, are not to be repeated. Neither Trent Reznor nor Coldplay have generated anything quite like the publicity that In Rainbows digital preview enjoyed.

Without the Freetards, the publicity coup could never have happened. Even the most inventive major label marketing genius with the biggest budget would have struggled to get such an indifferent "product" to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

And the real money, you'll note, is in the CD, and getting fans to pay twice. Which looks a lot like the Old Business Model to me. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.