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Radiohead download revenue hotly debated

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 12 Nov 2007 12:34 User comments (23)

Radiohead download revenue hotly debated The band Radiohead made their latest album available from their website in October. Instead of selling the album In Rainbows outright, the band allows purchasers to decide what they were worth, including the option to pay nothing.
The move has been criticized recently based on an estimate from industry analysts at comScore that 60% of downloaders didn't pay anything. After comScore's report was released on November 5th the band released a statement calling the firm's figures "purely speculative" and "wholly inaccurate." The statement went on to say "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." However the band hasn't released any actual numbers.

Recording industry executives apparently aren't particularly impressed with comScore's numbers either. In his blog Warner Brothers Records Head of Technology Ethan Kaplan asked "In what world does a “few out of a hundred” translate to “Most”??????." He was referring to the sample size used for comScore's calculations, which consisted of fewer than 1000 people who downloaded the album. He was also critical of press reports, asking "Can someone answer to me how mainstream journalism has survived this long?"

Under fire about their report, comScore's Andrew Lipsman issued a statement defending the firm's measurement technique, which involves tracking the ecommerce activity of a group of over 2 million consumers through software voluntarily installed on their computers. Of those who downloaded the Radiohead album there were "several hundred paid transactions, all of which ranged between $0-$20."

Lipman points out comScore's track record of results, saying "As an affirmation of the validity and representivity of our panel, we regularly release quarterly U.S. e-commerce spending estimates, several weeks in advance of the U.S. Department of Commerce releasing its own figures, and during the past 7 years our figures have rarely deviated from the official Commerce numbers by more than a few percent."

However, that doesn't necessarily mean the numbers for a specific item are accurate.

It's also worth considering what the effect on overall sales of Radiohead's back catalog has been. According to Nielsen SoundScan sales on their first seven albums increased dramatically after they announced their plans for releasing In Rainbows online. Other artists with extensive bodies of work and enough money and tech savvy to try similar release strategies are no doubt paying close attention. Certainly music execs will be watching CD sales to see how such a model would affect their bottom line.

The album is currently still available for download. It will be released on CD in the U.K. on December 31, with a U.S. release on January 2 of next year.

Sources:
Billboard 1 2 3
comScore
Ethan Kaplan

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23 user comments

112.11.2007 13:38

if all the bands in the world do this it could mean the end of RIAA.

It wouldent surprize me if the RIAA tries to ban the artist for not securing there content under there name.

212.11.2007 15:02

go figure, the major copyright syndicates are blowing numbers out of proportion.

312.11.2007 16:56

As a Radiohead fan I was very impressed by this move and knowing that the money was going direcly to them I paid for the new album out of respect and hoping that more bands follow their lead.

412.11.2007 17:23

When I heard that they are offering their music for download where users can put their pwn price tag on it, I was shocked! This makes all the sense in the world. They figure people will get it for free if they want. True fans will pay for the album and the other half will take it for free, and possibly buy the full high quality album in Jan.

Great move guys!

512.11.2007 17:37

some one is still going to put out a .torrent of it on some website. If some band i was actually into id donate... ah who am i kidding

612.11.2007 18:12

Quote:
It wouldent surprize me if the RIAA tries to ban the artist for not securing there content under there name.
The RIAA can't "ban" an artist (whatever that means).

The contract is between the artist and their record company. The RIAA is not involved in this contract. If an artist has an ongoing record contract they can't make new music and distribute it free, until after their contract expires. It would also be a contract violation to give away any of their old music, even after the contract expires.

Madonna's contract expired, but she can't directly sell or give-away her old recordings. (It appears she's sold the rights to her future work to a new company.)

New bands (with no recording contract) can do whatever they want.

The same is true for authors. Once they've got a book contract, they can't sell or give away copies of their own work! They've sold their rights to the publishing company.

So, either Radiohead has a new contract, or they renegotiated their old contract, or maybe their contract expired and they started their own label.

712.11.2007 18:42

did i say ban im sorry i meant sue.about a good 60 percent of record companies are closly related to or are part of the RIAA

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 12 Nov 2007 @ 18:45

812.11.2007 19:50

radioheads previous contract expired with EMI and they DID NOT sign another contract that anyone knows about right now. They produced/recorded In Rainbows themselves, and therefore no one can do anything about In Rainbows except Raidohead themselves.

I think this was a great move on their part, and I hope more bands will follow suit.

912.11.2007 21:32

I had decided to pay $50 for the album as I love their music and deeply respect their move.

However in Linux the site doesn't open. :S

1012.11.2007 22:22

im not a fan of radioheads mopey whining but i went to download the album when it came out just to help the cause you know? guess what, they wanted something like a buck fifty up front to cover some BS hosting cost they made up. so thats getting to choose how much you pay huh? i didnt download anything, didnt even download it from gnutella, and now i dont ever want anything to do with radiohead or whatever shady, lying son of a bitch they have working their marketing department that tried to pass off a crappy $1.50 pre-album as a free album to pull at the heartstrings of millions of file sharing advocates.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 12 Nov 2007 @ 22:24

1112.11.2007 22:29

Originally posted by georgeluv:
im not a fan of radioheads mopey whining but i went to download the album when it came out just to help the cause you know? guess what, they wanted something like a buck fifty up front to cover some BS hosting cost they made up. so thats getting to choose how much you pay huh? i didnt download anything, didnt even download it from gnutella, and now i dont ever want anything to do with radiohead or whatever shady, lying son of a bitch they have working their marketing department that tried to pass off a crappy $1.50 pre-album as a free album to pull at the heartstrings of millions of file sharing advocates.

Funny. I finally got around to downloading it today and didn't get charged a penny.

1212.11.2007 22:38

Originally posted by georgeluv:
im not a fan of radioheads mopey whining but i went to download the album when it came out just to help the cause you know?
You don't like the band, make fun of their music and wanted to "help the cause" by downloading it for nothing. That sounds completely logical and rational ~pure sarcasm~

1313.11.2007 4:13

Quote:
Originally posted by georgeluv:
im not a fan of radioheads mopey whining but i went to download the album when it came out just to help the cause you know?
You don't like the band, make fun of their music and wanted to "help the cause" by downloading it for nothing. That sounds completely logical and rational ~pure sarcasm~
I don't have the space to help the cause, but I make fun of them (games,movies,music) as much as I can ^^

1413.11.2007 13:12

Haha, yeah, how does not wanting to pay $1.50 support the band? Anyways, $1.50 does seem rather high. They mainly have to pay for the PayPal fees, which should be around 50 cents. So $1 goes towards bandwidth and administration fees?

1513.11.2007 13:37

quote=georgeluv]im not a fan of radioheads mopey whining but i went to download the album when it came out just to help the cause you know? guess what, they wanted something like a buck fifty up front to cover some BS hosting cost they made up. so thats getting to choose how much you pay huh? i didnt download anything, didnt even download it from gnutella, and now i dont ever want anything to do with radiohead or whatever shady, lying son of a bitch they have working their marketing department that tried to pass off a crappy $1.50 pre-album as a free album to pull at the heartstrings of millions of file sharing advocates.


you thick shit, its a card handling fee. if you pay nothing there is no fee as you send them no money!!!

1613.11.2007 13:44

Originally posted by DjDanio:
quote=georgeluv]im not a fan of radioheads mopey whining but i went to download the album when it came out just to help the cause you know? guess what, they wanted something like a buck fifty up front to cover some BS hosting cost they made up. so thats getting to choose how much you pay huh? i didnt download anything, didnt even download it from gnutella, and now i dont ever want anything to do with radiohead or whatever shady, lying son of a bitch they have working their marketing department that tried to pass off a crappy $1.50 pre-album as a free album to pull at the heartstrings of millions of file sharing advocates.
you thick shit, its a card handling fee. if you pay nothing there is no fee as you send them no money!!!

I think he misunderstood its 1.50+ not 1 cent or more, it can happen, no need to call others name for misunderstanding, now for their opinions maybe :P

1715.11.2007 17:19
duke8888
Inactive

I heard on the Howard Stern show that lots of the artists are pissed off for them doing this...... Who cares its all about the money and I hate those pig hogging record companies.

1815.11.2007 17:55

Even if a person paid only 10 bucks for the download,the band would most likely see more money in that fashion than if they were on a 'major' label and charged 22 bucks.

Props for the band in the route they chose to sell their material....even if I'm not a fan of the band,I really respect the method used.

1916.11.2007 10:59
gurtlepie
Inactive

As a hard dance DJ, I don't even like Radiohead. I do however think that the position that they have taken with the release of Rainbows is excellent and ground breaking, so I bought one for 15 quid for my sister. I love the fact that you have taken the internet and tabloid journalists to task and given EMI and the other happy scammers something to choke over.

P.S Even though Radioheads music is not for me, I've seen them live from backstage, and they can f**cking play.

2016.11.2007 13:05

Great to get the option to pay nothing. I've spent enough on their material pre-torrents and going to gigs, as I will again. No cd is worth the retail price. The sooner the record companies realise this, the sooner this whole argument can be put to bed.

2116.11.2007 18:47

I heard Metallica is going to make their next cd available for down from their website, and allow true fans to pay full price or nothing for their cd, without fear of getting sued if they download it for free. Yeah right !!!! I also just saw a pig fly out of hell with a snowball in his hoof.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 16 Nov 2007 @ 18:49

2219.11.2007 21:18

Way to stick it to the man!!!!

232.12.2007 18:08

Originally posted by dondmon96:
Way to stick it to the man!!!!
ditto

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