It’s about a month since Radiohead released In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-please download. Recently, much has been made of the statistic that 62% of those who downloaded the album chose not to pay for it. For example, Daniel Langendorf quoted Fred Wilson‘s remark: “I am surprised by the number of freeloaders.”
As an aside at the end of the same post, Daniel remarks that Radiohead will be working with EMI to release its back catalog on USB. Actually, the 7 albums are available in 3 formats: USB, download, and even, for the nostalgic, CD.
Since I never got round to buying Radiohead before In Rainbows, I’ve added the back catalog to one of my wish lists. I doubt that I am alone in this.
So one effect of the In Rainbows download will be to promote the back catalog. Another will be to promote the In Rainbows CD. Yet another will be to promote the international tour starting next spring.
As you can see, I don’t buy the implication that free downloads of In Rainbows represent forgone revenue for Radiohead. First, they serve as promo giveaways for other stuff. Second, they represent many people who wouldn’t have paid money for the music, either because they don’t pay money for any music, or because they wanted to try before buying, or they weren’t big enough fans of the band.
As Glyn Moody remarks, Radiohead really get the hang of this new music stuff.