Saturday, October 13, 2007

Might Kuhn Be Proud?

I might have taken part in a paradigm shift this week.

I downloaded an album

That alone was not the paradigm shift. What's new is who got paid -- and how much.

Radiohead released In Rainbows this week. But they didn't release it in any physical form. It wasn't in stores, but it was priced to move. And that's where the paradigm shift comes in. It was priced by me -- and by everyone else who wanted a copy.

The band released an mp3 version on their own website and invited all who wanted it to take it at whatever price they were able and willing to pay. From £0 to whatever (I paid £4, or a little more than $8). By signing up for it you do add your information to their marketing database, but the choice of how much to pay for the record is up to everyone individually.

And all the proceeds proceed directly to the band. Currently without a label, this all represents a giant experiment in how a major band can thumb their noses at the traditional distribution routes and take the product directly to the fan base, cutting out the middle man in the process.

It will be interesting to see what the results are (assuming we ever get to see the results), and equally interesting to see what the impact will be on sales of a more traditionally distributed physical product down the road (a plastic CD should be available in a couple of months -- part of this week's availability was a super box set which included a two-album vinyl version, a two-CD digital version, a bunch of extra graphical material, all available in December and an immedate download).

The most important question, of course, is whether the album is any good. Unsurprisingly, it is. But more on that later.


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