Making the Morality Play of Pricing Visible

UK-based music industry news subscription service, Record of the Day, is running a survey asking people buying the Radiohead record how much they paid and why. You can read MANY sample answers. I have too much to say about their data to say anything and still get done what needs to be done this week, so I’ll just post a few to give you a feel for how rich and value laden the the audience’s economic relationship to music is. Radiohead have opened a broad public discussion of this whole morality play. All those tacit values we have about our relationship to music, to artists, our rights and obligations, our value to them, how some people just don’t think about this stuff while others obsess on it, and the many logistical issues at stake are laid bare:

£0.00 (United Kingdom)

I’m not even sure I like Radiohead, I found OK Computer really hard going. So I’m taking a (free) punt and seeing what it’s like, either I’ll become a new fan or continue on my way.

£15.00 (United Kingdom)

Paid this amount not only for the music but also for the chance to participate in the experience of consumer spending power being kindly given a boost by Radiohead’s new business model. That to me was worth more than the music alone. As all the pundits keep saying, musicians will make money from live events because of this move – well, this felt like participating in a live event. The fact we were allowed to choose gave the experience more value – as the exercise meant the value of money became, for a moment in time, subjective.

£5.00 (United Kingdom)

I think it’s a very smart move – Radiohead have taken a huge moral high ground but have also given their fans the opportunity to do the same.

£40.00 (United Kingdom)

boxset. great idea. moving the industry forward. i hope music fans are honest.

£0.01 (United Kingdom)

It was quite a half-hearted offer from Radiohead – they should have actually GIVEN the album away, instead of offering a pay-what-you-like deal which makes a ton of money for credit card processing companies.

£0.00 (Canada)

I’ll listen to it first. If I like it, I’ll buy it when it’s formally released in three months or so. That’s what I do with most releases that catch my attention. I also write about music, so the artists get some honest feedback that, assuming the “product” is good, will further help sales and distribution.

£1.50 (United Kingdom)

Tried to pay £1.55 to make it an even £2.00 with the card fees, but their website only charged me £1. I’ve paid enough for all their gigs to deserve their music for free!

£5.60 (United States)

I actually meant to pay less, but I accidentally converted Dollars into Euros and not Pounds like I should have. Basically, I meant to pay $8 American. My bad. Oh well. I’m just glad to be able to finally hear the album.

Kudos to Record of the Day for making this information public instead of hoarding it for themselves! And extra kudos to them for the “Sign up here to get the results via email” link on the side.

Comments (2) to “Making the Morality Play of Pricing Visible”

  1. This is a fascinating experiment. I’ll be following it closely. As a consumer, it’s nice to finally have power.

  2. The sample answers are insightful. I liked the one where one of them paid the “regular” price of 15 pounds but wanted to download it to “stick it to the man.” Will Radiohead’s next album be distributed the same? We’ll see . . .
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