Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Amid quite a hubbub, Radiohead released their most recent album In Rainbows online about three months prior to it arriving in record stores. But there was a catch-- you could name the price you wanted to pay for it. (Here's a brief rundown; if you search the topic, there has been plenty written about it.) If you wanted to pay nothing, that was fine. If you wanted to pay 10 pounds, that was fine too-- both parties got the same disc. It turned into a great assignment for my Public Economics class last fall-- public goods, rational economic actors on all sides...plenty of angles to take.
As it turned out, the most you could pay for the album was 99.99 pounds. And in a recent interview, about halfway down, lead singer Thom Yorke revealed that 15 people ended up paying the full 99.99 pounds-- "...and I swear the band members are not among that 15." I have to admit, I thought it would be a bit higher, though if I remember correctly, it was not immediately clear when moving through the site that 99.99 pounds was the maximum. I believe it took some trial and error by the user to come to that amount (or hearing about that level online prior to downloading your copy).
The band is acting very protective of the specifics of how many were downloaded and at what prices...now that would be interesting data to look at.