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Am I A Jerk For Downloading The New Radiohead Album For Free?

Sometimes I just have to say, ???what the fuck???? and the royal we doesn???t work as well. These are my thoughts???raronauer

Back in high school, there were few Radiohead fans bigger than me. As a precocious teen living in the suburbs, driving around aimlessly listening to OK Computer was my standard Sunday afternoon. The highlight of my senior year was seeing Radiohead live.

So I was pretty excited when the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows, came out yesterday at a pay what you want cost. And what did I pay for the new album from the band that ???changed my life??? when I was 16? Nothing.

I wasn???t an economics major, but when someone offers me the choice of paying for something or getting it for free, I usually choose free. And while I get that the pay-what-you-want model still encourages people to pay for the album, I???ve dealt with enough Jewish grandparents to know when I???m being fooled.

While I enjoy the new Radiohead album, let???s call this pricing plan what is it: A stunt. It???s a big fuck you to the traditional ways to distribute and promote music.

Apple won???t make a dime off of the Radiohead album because Radiohead refuses to sell single tracks on the iTunes store. In Rainbows downloads in entirety, not in single tracks, so Radiohead has ensured that listeners will hear the whole thing.

Critics didn???t get an early copy of the album. Until yesterday, there was no way to hear any of the tracks. This new distribution model was the P.R. for the album.

But the promotion worked. I got In Rainbows way earlier than I would have if it had been for sale through traditional means. And Radiohead is still hoping this plan will lead to more traditional album sales.

Ultimately, what???s the difference between downloading a couple of tracks from an obscure band on MySpace and getting the Radiohead album for free? I don???t owe Radiohead ten bucks now for making high school bearable then.

The music industry has changed since OK Computer came out. Most artists make money from tours, not album sales. And if Radiohead comes back to New York, I would love to see them.

That experience just can???t be pirated.

Oct 11, 2007 · Link · 10 Responses

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Tagged: Music · Radiohead · Raronauer

Comments (10)

No. 1
antonio says:

I’m more than willing to pay for the musician’s work. Including recording and production costs. I am willing to pay for music. I refuse to pay for publicity, payola or private jets, escort services and crystal champagne for the record label executives.

You should go and pay something. One buck if you will. If Radiohead comes out of this with bigger bucks than the label would then the labels will need to understand, cheap, pay what you want, no drm distribution is the way to go, because it is fair for everyone.

Man, you are complaining about something that hasn’t even born yet. And you do owe them some bucks for the album you’re listening as they didn’t make it for free. They should at least recover the costs.

And nom it is not right to think that paying the tickets for a show is paying for the record too.

Posted: Oct 11, 2007 at 1:51 pm

No. 2
nick says:

WOW good for you, hanging on to your $$$ like that, you wouldn’t want too get “FOOLED” into paying some one for there work. Especially the band that made YOUR life bearable. lol
cheapo douchebag

Posted: Oct 11, 2007 at 2:01 pm

No. 3
Jon says:

Yeah, you are a jerk. The only excuse for downloading music for free (and it is an excuse, a rationalization) is that you’re avoiding the unfairly jacked up prices record companies charge, most of which money the artist will never see anyway. Now you’re being provided with an opportunity to pay the artist directly for top notch work. So there’s no longer a defensible reason for not paying something. Nobody is saying you should pay traditional record prices but paying a fair price for music you love and respect is just common decency.

Posted: Oct 11, 2007 at 4:26 pm

No. 4
dan says:

I think people should pay what they want.

After all, it is a pay-what-you-want deal. Not a pay-what-you-want-but-don’t-pay-nothing-cos-people-will-think-your-cheap deal.

As a business model I like it, but I don’t like the moralising about people who choose not to pay. These people would normally download a torrent for free anyway.

My personal opinion of the ‘best’ model would be to give the music away for free but charge for merchandise and gigs.

Posted: Oct 11, 2007 at 7:40 pm

No. 5
Magic Johnson says:

I also downloaded it for free, but I plan to go back on Radiohead’s website and pay what I feel after a few listens. I’m treating it like the tip jar at a live performance. You don’t tip until you’ve heard the music.

And when I “tip” Radiohead, I will be keeping into consideration the fair audio-quality, the absence of packaging and the usual rate they receive when selling an album through a major label (often 15%). I will pay something, though, because I wish to support this business model.

But if you are no longer capable of being affected by a new Radiohead album, then maybe you shouldn’t pay anything.

Posted: Oct 12, 2007 at 12:21 am

No. 6
Jim says:

I also downloaded Radiohead’s new one for free… I felt a little cheap doing it, but figured Thom and the gang sort of owed it to me after having paid good money for Kid A, Amnesiac and even Hail to the Thief.

Let’s face it, we’ve been carrying this band since OK Computer. Luckily enough, the new (free) music is pretty good. I’m on board with paying for the next one, which is saying something, given the recent history.

Posted: Oct 12, 2007 at 12:26 pm

No. 7
Kasey says:

Why does it have to be one way or the other…I download for free now…I pay for actual cd or vinyl later…this is how I’ve done it for years.

Posted: Oct 12, 2007 at 12:45 pm

No. 8
Kasey says:

Also…Regardless of my intent to purchase a hard copy of the cd, even if someone doesnt, does that make them a criminal? If these “artists” are portraying themselves as such, that means they are producing art, and isnt art’s inherent purpose to be displayed in public for the masses, no matter what their financial status may be? So really, the internet downloading system is equal to a museum who asks for a “donation” enabling those of lesser means to enjoy the art just as “freely” as someone who has the money to buy it. Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Posted: Oct 12, 2007 at 12:56 pm

No. 9
Jon says:

I agree with Rebecca. The Radiohead idea is only meant to garner publicity and to up their ???cool??? factor. It???s sort of a pseudo hippie free love kind of thing and it???s also pretty smug. I won???t download the album because Radiohead sucks, but if someone I liked were to do it I???d totally download it for free. In the end it???s not a very intelligent concept and when all is said and done they???ll lose money on the deal.

Posted: Oct 12, 2007 at 2:12 pm

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