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Radiohead Says Name Your Own Price for New Album

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the funny-that-the-artists-are-pushing-for-lower-prices dept.

Music 498

TechDirt is reporting that the band Radiohead has apparently chosen the path less traveled when it comes to the release of their new album. They are offering two very unique methods of purchase for their new music, the ability to name your own price for a digital download or the ability to purchase a special "discbox" which will contain the album on CD and vinyl in addition to a horde of goodies. Will be interesting to see how this new model works out for them and what it might do to more traditional methods.

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498 comments

w00t (-1, Offtopic)

u0berdev (1038434) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812533)

My first FIRST! :-)

Don't know if it will work (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812537)

But it is beautiful PR for Radiohead

Re:Don't know if it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812711)

I think it will work, it will get the downloaders to support nearly free music and a shout back at the RIAA and give us Radiohead fans who bought the roughly $80 record set something to pine about for 3 months till it get hear, something to let us down when it arrives, and something to find a melancholic equilibrium after having listened to it for 3 months straight to make sure we got it all...

Does... (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812543)

free count as a price?

Re:Does... (2, Informative)

TGTilde (874930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812613)

Yes. You can choose no price.

Re:Does... (5, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812689)

free count as a price?


Of course it does. That's sort of the point, isn't it? You pay what it is worth to you. If it is worth nothing, pay nothing. If nobody pays anything, we are unlikely to see more music from Radiohead (especially under such permissive marketing schemes) but it wasn't worth anything to you so who cares?

If, on the other hand, it is worth something to you, you might want to send them something to encourage them to continue making music.

It's really quite simple.

Re:Does... (4, Interesting)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812803)

This problem is isomorphic to the tragedy of the commons:

You are faced with the choice of supporting the band, or not supporting the band. Many people need to support the band in order for it to stay afloat.

If you support the band, you have no reason to believe anyone else will support the band, but you are unable to spend the money you spent supporting the band on other things. So the rational decision is to refuse to support the band, and hope that someone else does.

This might work because people feel good about giving away money, but it wouldnt scale very well for the rest of the industry.

Re:Does... (2, Interesting)

hatchet (528688) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812913)

Don't you think there's something wrong with the band or their music if no one else supports them? Or maybe, there's something wrong with your taste:>

Re:Does... (4, Insightful)

Conception (212279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813207)

Actually, I think in this case the rational decision is to give them money because you don't know if anyone else will. If you actually enjoy Radiohead and want to support them, why would you rationally rely on "hope" as a means to their support rather than the logical, "I know Radiohead is getting support, because I supported them."

Now, if Radiohead announced, "Hey, we made 20 million off this idea! Thanks guys!" then I could see the Tragedy of the Commons becoming common.

Re:Does... (-1, Troll)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813627)

It's worth nothing to me, because I don't want to listen to their whiny music. If only there were some way I could actively keep them from staying afloat so that they all had to wind up broke and poor and scrounging for change in the streets. That is something I would participate in.

However, for a good band, this would be an innovative idea.

Re:Does... (4, Interesting)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813081)

The nice thing is you can pay nothing, download the music and see if you like it, if you're like me and don't know Radiohead from the Black Eyed Peas or Coldplay (I've heard of all of them, but never listened to any of their music). Then, if you like it, go back and buy it again with the price you consider fair, or go to a concert. Hopefully this works for them so other bands will give it a try.

Re:Does... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813161)

Of course, if it is worth $0.0 to you, you probably won't download it, and you won't care about the price...

As it is in my situation regarding Radiohead...

Re:Does... (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813173)

Of course the optimal strategy is to try to get everybody else to cough up but to pay nothing yourself.

Re:Does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813289)

This is the worst thing that could possibly have happened to music.

The idea that all the hard work, and twenty odd years of practice, that it takes to be a real musician should be worth nothing is awful. People are not going to pay if they don't have to. End of subject.
Look at all the open source projects that ask for donations.
They get fuck all and people still use all the software.

Oh well, welcome to the era of recycled music built in DAWS, as that's the only thing cheap enough to turn out in bulk and make a living on.
The days of spending a year writing an album and playing it with other real humans in a great sounding studio are over.
Just don't complain that music has got worse, the public gets what the public wants.......

OK (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813311)

Given that I had three copies of the CD, one for the office, one for the car, and one for home, prior to the rise of digital players, this is good for the market. It seems entirely reasonable for me to pay ten dollars, likely more than they would ever get from a label, and use the files how I wish.

This is the future of the market, which is why I feel that Apple should spin iTunes into the marketplace, and take their profits. An open marketplace for the music, and perhaps movie, industry would be fantastic.

Re:Does... (1)

binarybum (468664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813501)

If, on the other hand, it is worth something to you, you might want to send them something to encourage them to continue making music.

    this logic might work on the local garage band I saw last week at the pub-- if me and a few dozen other people voluntarily paid for their album they might not need to go back to their jobs at Denny's. But it's hard for me to picture my mustering up a bit of change from my hurting budget affecting the release of the next radiohead album. I think I prefer the idea of having them be encouraged by my tick on their download counter rather than by my quarter anyway.

Re:Does... (1)

sh00z (206503) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813511)

If, on the other hand, it is worth something to you, you might want to send them something to encourage them to continue making music.
What is the band willing to pay *me* to download their album? They owe me four stadium beers. These wankers were the opening act for R.E.M. in 1996, and they were so awful, I had to drink heavily in order to tolerate the noise and ego until the headliner came out.

Re:Does... (2, Interesting)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812771)

They should still ask people for a CC and bill them 0.0. That way at least the billing hassle is equal between the zero/non-zero cost alternatives. This hassle is really why many people pirate MP3s, it's too damn hard to deal with DRM billing proprietariness etc etc.

Re:Does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813001)

Wow, I just do it because it's free. Why pay money when you don't have to?

Re:Does... (1)

ShorePiper82 (1027534) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813035)

Charging $0.00 to a card would be a bad financial move for anyone. Each credit card / charge transaction costs a fee.
Effectively running a $0.00 charge to a card would cost the band. The cost is whatever is under their merchant license contract (pennies on the dollar, sometimes considerably higher). This is the reason why you see signs in stores $10 minimum for credit card purchases, etc. They're trying to discourage frivilous charges (mostly among small businesses, larger corporations receive better rates).

Re:Does... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813241)

or like alot of shops (where i am) we just pay 2.9% of the total transactions..;. 2.9% of 0 is still 0.. so it wouldn't cost us anything.. although i am sure that if we did a million of them visa might give is a nasty gram...

Re:Does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813037)

A direct link to the mp3 plus some PayPal and co. icons would be so much nicer. The site keeps on saying "You have no items in your basked". Wtf!

I'd be willing to pay an extra bug for a simple download. Anyway I first want to listen to the music _before_ I pay. This is what everybody does in CD shops btw.

I don't even know what music they make (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812549)

... but this kind of make me wondering about buying it for two dollars or whatever just to get them some money and show them that it works =P

been there, done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812621)

Name your own price on any music you buy at Magnatune [magnatune.com] .

Re:I don't even know what music they make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812785)

Is this legit?

Re:I don't even know what music they make (4, Funny)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813053)

Just out of curiosity, is there such a thing as track lighting for a cave?

Re:I don't even know what music they make (1)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813373)

Thank you for making sure that if I posted my immediate reaction to that post, it would be modded redundant. . .

Re:I don't even know what music they make (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813625)

There's nothing stopping you from downloading it for nothing, deciding whether you like it and tossing them a couple bucks if you do.

SSS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812551)

Heretics!

direct link? (5, Informative)

darthpenguin (206566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812563)

How about a direct link to the page where you can pre-order the album (in either form)? http://www.inrainbows.com/ [inrainbows.com]

Radiohead++ (1)

paullb (904941) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812581)

Great band, and if they lose money they're still rich anyway right? =) Besides, I hear most of the money is not off CDs but off of tours

Re:Radiohead++ (2, Insightful)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812977)

That's not true at all. Major tours cost huge amounts of money to move around, and are only used for promotion for the records. Bands don't tour so much these days because more of that promotional money is spent on the videos that they make.

I agree with you though that Radiohead can afford to try this kind of stunt even if it fails, so they're not laying a lot on the line. It'll be valuable for less well off bands though to see if it works.

heh, make the minimum price $1 (4, Interesting)

revlayle (964221) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812593)

and even after hosting/bandwidth fees and site maintenance, they are probably still making more $$ per sale than they would have with a traditional record deal

Name my own price? (5, Funny)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812599)

-$50,000.00. I'll take cash or check.

Re:Name my own price? (0, Troll)

wiggles (30088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812783)

That's about what it would take for me to pick up anything by Radiohead, so long as they didn't force me to listen to it.

Re:Name my own price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813049)

Yeah, accept that I would pay them if they stopped releasing that awful whinging. Haven't they already done their part of releasing shit disguised as artsy pop music, why torture us even more.

Actually let them release all they want, but off with the heads of dj's who play it on radio.

Re:Name my own price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813473)

You mean "except" not accept, douchebag...

Austin Powers (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812625)

Dr. Evil: Okay, here's the plan. We get the CD and then hold the world ransom for... 1 MILLION dollars! Number Two: Sir, strictly speaking, a million dollars will not go very far these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year. Dr. Evil: Really? Okay then... we hold the world ransom for 1... hundred... BILLION dollars!

If the RIAA sues us... (4, Funny)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812647)

for illegally downloading their music, can we choose how much we can settle for too?

Re:If the RIAA sues us... (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813299)

If the RIAA sues us for illegally downloading their music... can we choose how much we can settle for too?

With peerguardian, you shouldn't fear getting sued - or am I wrong?

Re:If the RIAA sues us... (4, Informative)

wishmechaos (841912) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813515)

Yes, you _are_ wrong.

Re:If the RIAA sues us... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813671)

Right, i forgot about this whole thing "ISP spying on us" business :(

*sigh* when are the fully-encrypted + anonymous filesharing apps coming?

They're make up for it (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812649)

They'll make up for the free digital download (and then some) with the $80 price tag on the discbox. There are easily enough Radiohead fanatics out there to make some major cash on this thing.

That being said, I wonder if this is some kind of strange social experiment to see if anyone actually puts more than $0 in the price box. I probably won't.

Re:They're make up for it (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812867)

There are plenty of us out there that are willing to reward those who behave in a manner we consider "good" with money as incentive to continue along that path.

That's why I don't own Microsoft stock but do own Google stock. The question will be, how many of those people are aware of this and how many are Radiohead fans? I'm a bit shamefaced to admit that while I've heard of them, I wouldn't be able to name a song by them without resorting to Google/Wikipedia. But then, I'm not that into the music world. I probably have heard their songs day in and day out and simply haven't connected the song to the group.

This model, the cheap disc vs the expensive collector's item with goodies, has worked well in the video game and anime markets. I don't see much of a difference here other than the fact that they are marketing the cheap disc as "really cheap". I hope it works out for them. If previous experience is anything to go by, I think it will.

Re:They're make up for it (4, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813065)

That being said, I wonder if this is some kind of strange social experiment to see if anyone actually puts more than $0 in the price box.
It's an interesting social experiment, to be sure... but not the first. Jamendo [jamendo.com] , offers Creative-Commons music for free download, and provides a link to "support the artist" if you want to. Evidently [jamendo.com] , people are willing to donate money for free music.

Magnatune [magnatune.com] also allows the buyer to set the price [magnatune.com] for an album purchase online: from $8 to $18. As far as I know, they've never released stats about how much people decide to pay.

So, this new model is not entirely unique.

I probably won't.
That's your choice. Many other people (myself included) certainly will pay some amount for the album. I guess the idea is that although lots of people will download it for free, those people would probably have downloaded it for free (via P2P) anyways. At least in this case, you allow those people who value easy downloading to conveniently "do the right thing" and directly support the artist.

Re:They're make up for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813435)

It's being done in other industries too: Another Sky Press ( http://www.anothersky.org/ [anothersky.org] ) has been doing it for years - not only do they allow free download but they sell their physical books 'at cost' plus optional contribution.

The Radiohead thing is great because they're so high profile. This will become a trend.

Re:They're make up for it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813189)

Stephen King did something similar with his online-only The Plant series. IIRC about 60% paid to download the first chapter, but by the time he released the fifth that dropped down quite a lot and almost everyone chose to get it for free. King then pulled the plug on the pay-if-you-like project saying something like "I could get much more money going through a traditional book publishing route, but I might change my mind in the future."

Re:They're make up for it (5, Insightful)

neurojab (15737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813193)

That being said, I wonder if this is some kind of strange social experiment to see if anyone actually puts more than $0 in the price box. I probably won't.

Maybe if I was really hard up for cash, I'd consider putting in a lowball amount, but not $0. Putting in $0 would be worse, IMO than stiffing the waitstaff at a nice restaurant on their tip. You're not required to tip them, but you should. Why? They work hard, and make most of their money that way. Maybe it's just me, but I think that artists deserve to be paid for their efforts, even when they don't force the payment. They're asking to be paid a fair price, not to be stiffed. They've cut out the middlemen here, so perhaps that amount is less than you'd pay for a CD on Amazon. Perhaps it's more, for that very reason. They've let you decide.

Re:They're make up for it (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813653)

Well, it's like tipping the waitstaff before you've been served.

What remains to be seen is if they do a "normal" release later on. My little quandary is that I'm perfectly willing to pay them (even up to $20 if the music is good enough) for a physical CD, but I'm not really getting much value for a digital download. I hardly ever listen to the music I download, because I mostly listen to music in the car, and mp3s don't sound so great (to me anyways) with relatively decent speakers.

Even more interesting (2, Insightful)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812661)

It will be even more interesting to see the reaction of some of the big labels.

"Unique" (5, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812663)

Something is either unique or it isn't.

There's no "Somewhat unique", or "very unique".

Re:"Unique" (4, Interesting)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813135)

Something is either unique or it isn't. There's no "Somewhat unique", or "very unique".

My mother was an English teacher and she used to complain about people misusing the word unique in this way all the time. And while I certainly understand the point you and she are making, I have long wondered at what point does a commonly misused word simply become redefined?

You can argue that "very unique" is non-sensical, but the truth is that everyone reading that phrase knows the intention of the author, and therefore information information is being conveyed.

Re:"Unique" (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813249)

However you redefine it, it's still a tautology and shouldn't be used.

I agree with your mother. It makes me slightly furious too.

Re:"Unique" (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813137)

You exhibit a rather unique sort of pedantry.

Nyezzz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813433)

Very logical.

Re:"Unique" (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813503)

Seinfeld. Rava: "there are no big or small coincidences just coincidences"

Re:"Unique" (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813527)

I disagree with the basic premise of your statement.
Every ladybug is unique, because every ladybug is different than every other ladybug. A ladybug that can shoot fire from its eyes is *more* unique than a ladybug that has a 0.00000000001% genetic difference from all other ladybugs.
In other words: while 'unique' is a boolean, it can be modified in speech to indicate degree. If not, then your definition of 'unique' is kind of useless.

This is brilliant (4, Interesting)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812693)

Radiohead wins, the fans win, the RIAA companies lose. Radiohead makes more for their music, fans pay less, and the greedy middlemen eventually begin considering honest jobs.

Only immediate problem I see is that the record companies are going to be darned sure to sign new bands to perpetual contracts to prevent this kind of defection in the event of success. Maybe the new pathway will be for new bands to get exposure on iTunes or Amazon's new .mp3 download service. And just maybe, as the article suggests, big successful bands selling direct will feature or promote new, worthy acts.

We can be glad the sun is setting on the **AAs.

Re:This is brilliant (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813143)

and the greedy middlemen eventually begin considering honest jobs. - this is not going to happen. The greedy middlemen will spend all of their money fighting court battles against everyone who stands on their way. Will they win, will they lose, will anything really change at the end, we'll just have to wait and see.

Re:This is brilliant (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813227)

Oh, and I doubt very much that even if the greedy middlemen lose all their money they'll consider 'honest jobs'. More like they'll continue trying to make lots of money in similar schemes.

RIAA companies win too (1)

jaypaulw (889877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813159)

It's called "back catalog" and Radiohead don't own any of it.

Re:This is brilliant (2, Informative)

qortra (591818) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813329)

While I mostly agree with you, please don't forget independent music store owners. These people were [mostly] not greedy; they just made a living, and the internet age left them behind. They let us listen to music before we bought it, connected us to new music that we would otherwise have been unaware of, and they never tried to sue us. Generally, these people were being screwed by the RIAA's inflated prices just like everybody else. As physical media became less popular and the RIAA refused to lower prices, the independent owners had no choice but to watch their businesses waste away.

There really wasn't anything that anybody could could do; the moment that the internet appeared, their business model was doomed. However, please don't lump these people in with the rest of the truly greedy middlemen; these were honest people, and I for one will miss them.

Not sure about you, but I like this (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812715)

Not because $0.00 is a valid price to download, but because they are actually doing something right, valuing a download vs. real physical product in this test. No matter what they do, people will be sharing their music for free, so they capitalize on that for the news bite, AND offer up more than a license to listen to 3+ minutes of music for sale. The way the human mind tends to work, they stand a good chance of making money on this.

Wimps (0, Troll)

mmuskratt (232684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812733)

Ha! They have to put it on us to fix the price for them selling out...used to be that they could sign a fat contract to a record company for that.

So if social engineering works, who will pay the most for it? Who will pay the least?

Only if the publish the results (3, Insightful)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812747)

I think this will be very interesting *ONLY IF* Radiohead publishes the results of such a promotion.

It will be interesting because they are (for whatever reason) a relevant and popular band with access to traditional B&M distribution. So we can see (very approximately and inaccurate duh)
-what geographic locations paid the most average price
-what geographic locations which paid nothing
-what the average per-download price was
-highest & lowest price

and so on... esp. since it's not often that a band with as much exposure as Radiohead (don't even say Prince or I will slap you) experiments like this.

That's great, but... (0, Troll)

markbt73 (1032962) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812765)

...it's still Radiohead.

"This food is terrible." "Yeah, but the portions are HUGE!"

Re:That's great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812963)

As long as it sounds louder than my old CDs I'm satisfied. I heard it will be motherclipping loud this time so everybody will be happy.

You're cheating yourself (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813129)

Somebody once took me to a Radiohead show to get rid of an extra ticket. I wasn't expecting much, but I was curious enough to check it out. I have to say: They blew the doors off. They were a really, really, really solid live band, and it took me a bit by surprise. Since then I've gone back and listened to their records and gained a lot more respect for their music. It's still not necessarily my cup of tea, but if there are any mainstream rock bands working that deserve respect I would say that Radiohead is one of them.

Re:That's great, but... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813225)

Where's bad analogy man when you need him?

You can live without the Radiohead, but if you're starving and on a budget you may well think "Yeah, but the portions are HUGE!" is an excellent thing to say about a restaurant with terrible food.

Jews will ruin it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812815)

this will simply prove to the rest of the industry that CDs and full album downloads for a set price is the way to go since i predict 90% of the internet will act like a bunch of jews (including most of slashdot aka i want everything free community) and will give $0-$2 for the entire thing.

Re:Jews will ruin it (1, Troll)

DXMikey (1053856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813111)

Not that I should honor your remark by replying but WTF? I see you got fed on bullshit growing up. Hope you liked the taste.

1. I'm a Jew
2. I've moved away from downloading via torrent and/or emule to buying from the iTunes Store. I love the service and appreciate the fact that I can move my music in between 5 authorized machines. I have no feeling that I don't "own" my music and vids purchased there.
3. I'm finally going to be a proud Mac Owner as soon as my Apple Store card comes this week. Macbook, here I come! (non-sequiter but thought I'd throw it in).
4. I'm active in the local Jewish Community. Funny, I've never been invited to one of those meetings where we supposedly plot to overthrow the world or ruin some other country's economy. You should visit Israel sometime. The streets there are rather decidely NOT paved with gold.
5. On the other hand you run into assholes everywhere. Some of them are at Synagogue - some of 'em here on Slashdot. In fact, I seem to be addressing one right now.
6. So...if you have 10 dishonest used car salesmen and 9 of 'em are WASPs and one is a Jew, I take it your attitude is, "9 of 'em screwed ya, one of 'em Jew-ed ya", yes?
7. Fuck you.

How about name your own price for concerts? (1, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812835)

I like this idea, but I think it goes in a direction of a market that is already plummeting to zero code for recorded music (used primarily as a marketing resource to get fans to come to live shows or buy hard merchandise which isn't copied as easily or at a far greater cost).

I love MeetUp.com because I think it is a great way to get to know others in your area who have similar tastes as you do. But MeetUp has a few shortcomings in terms of active financial participation of those who are part of the group, so I think it falls short of being a strong market incentive to use as a direction for bands, public speakers, and others to find markets of interest.

There are websites where people can put up money to entice someone to visit their town, but I think they don't focus well on bands and speakers. Why don't we have more of a market support for live concerts, especially since they can be a "true market" resource for financing musicians and artist? Music has nearly infinite supply in MP3 format, with just the cost of bandwidth and hosting being the limiting factor for infinite supply (therefore zero or near zero market cost). Bands who produce great music at a low or no cost can produce a big profit if they entice people to go to their shows.

Why isn't there, yet, a mechanism for bartering for live music, between fans and artists?

Example:

Radiohead says they'll go on tour in the United States. www.BookABand.com (made up site, might exist) lets all the fans put up their own money to "vote" for a venue for Radiohead to play at (or a city, instead of a specific venue). I may love Radiohead, so I'd say I'll pay $200 per ticket to see them play, preferably in a smaller venue. Note that my wife and I pay outrageous sums of money to see artists play at The Pearl at the Palms Casino in Vegas (small venue, tickets can be $250 per seat for standing room) because we like the closer quarters and the opportunity after the show to talk to the musicians. Not everyone wants to pay that money, but we love small venues, so it is worth it to us.

Others can bid say $1, or $10 or $50 or whatever they feel is a cap. If Radiohead decides to pick that town, let's say Chicago, they can log in and say they'll play Chicago if they can raise $50,000 for the show. Venues can bid based on their capacity and what cut they want. We might have 10,000 Chicago Radiohead fans bidding between $1 and $500, 10 venues bidding between 1000 capacity and 10,000 capacity for a cut of say 10-30%, and Radiohead making the final decision. When they pick a venue, the rest is automatically calculated: fans pay what they think is a viable amount to pay, and the cut off occurs at the point that the band gets their $50,000+ total, with fans below the cut-off not attending. Anyone can raise or lower their bids up to approval by the band and the venue, and the band and venue can cancel their bid as well.

Sort of a Dutch auction of sorts, but with market forces providing the final cost and service provided.

Music sales may not be dead, but they're quickly heading in that direction. For every 1 album sold online, how many are pirated, given away, played on the radio or Pandora, or distributed at no cost or charge? 5? 10? 50? It would make sense for bands to try to make as much profit as possible -- based on their fans' financial desire -- and give more of their music away as a marketing cost.

Some bands, say my brother's band Maps & Atlases [myspace.com] , might be happy to play for only $2500 and set up 10 dates for their fans to bid on around the country. They might get 250 people willing to pay $10 each, or 500 people willing to pay between $5 and $20, with venues kicking in a negative cost (meaning they'd pay the band instead of taking a per-ticket percentage) to bid for a semi-popular band such as them.

Re:How about name your own price for concerts? (2, Funny)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813041)

I heard Radiohead will play a free concert for you if you have cancer in your ass.

Now where were those pubes...

Re:How about name your own price for concerts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813399)

It's an interesting concept for something, but it would never work for live music shows. Whether they're a garage band or Radiohead, touring is an insanely complicated process (moving and accomodating four people and their crew across the country and world, setting up and promoting the events, etc.) There's really no way any sane band would agree to a "maybe we'll play. maybe we won't" auction when they have thirty cities to hit on a tour.

There's only one thing broken in the current system; Ticketmaster and their greedy stranglehold on prices. Bust them up (something has to be illegal about their business practices!) and allow competition and we'll see realistic prices again.

Re:How about name your own price for concerts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813409)

Your idea, with a number of slight differences is at work in the House Concert movement. A community of music listeners will invite an artist or band to play at a house. The community guarantees a certain turn out of which all money goes to the artist - no money to the venue since it's a home. it works quite well, as long as the concert can be held in a home (~30-50 people typically).

Let's not see this one on the filesharing networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812873)

Radiohead has the right idea and the courage to try something radical. Let's not spoil it, because if this works, we may not have to deal with a price-fixing music industry that takes it from the fans and the artists so often anymore. Tell your friends, and if you still have to share it, make sure the recipient knows where to buy it and what's at stake.

Re:Let's not see this one on the filesharing netwo (1)

drix (4602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813529)

I agree with you, but just playing devil's advocate: isn't downloading it off BitTorrent equivalent to paying $0? If anything, you're saving them the cost of bandwidth.

love this idea... (4, Insightful)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812941)

I think this (along with, unfortunately, corporate sponsorship) is the future of original music sales. Several years ago, after downloading the fantastic "Source Tags and Codes" album from the Band "And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead", I tried to email the lads and offer them $5 directly for the music.

I got a nice email from someone saying "thanks, but due to contract restrictions with the record label, they could not accept direct donations...please support us by purchasing our album from traditional sources" or something along those lines.

There is something 10x more satisfying by trying to give my hard earned money directly to the artist, and not to the scum-sucking music executives who have, for years, been stealing millions from naive, unsuspecting bands.

Shatner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20812987)

Where's Will Shatner in all of this?

Not so novel (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20812989)

They are offering two very unique methods of purchase for their new music, the ability to name your own price for a digital download or the ability to purchase a special "discbox" which will contain the album on CD and vinyl in addition to a horde of goodies.
How is that first item--the ability to choose your own purchase price--in any way "unique", let alone the oxymoronic "very unique"? Magnatune [magnatune.com] has been doing it for years, and it's (one of) the reasons I love 'em. Aside from the ability to choose FLAC, ogg, or MP3, that is.

pedant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813457)

It's a tautology, not an oxymoron.

Re:pedant! (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813517)

I humbly disagree.

And Video Killed the Radio Star (3, Insightful)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813007)

"The traditional business model had been ruined by the Internet," said Grundy. "The industry is still trying to work out what on earth the new model or models should be and this is just one option."

Sucks when you've become redundant, eh? Authors are self-publishing; musicians can sell their songs on-line. They've found that they're doing most of the promotional work anyway, so why are you getting such a big cut? They've peaked behind the curtain and found there is no wizard. You evolve or you get run over.

Re:And Video Killed the Radio Star (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813305)

Hey, if your milk money came from selling the same album to people every 10 years in a different format, you'd be unhappy too.

how about (1)

xubu_caapn (1086401) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813149)

-1,000,000?

I for one just preordered (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813203)

for 1 pound. Fair price for a digital album in my book.

Re:I for one just preordered (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813389)

Or at least I tried, their server is very nearly slashdotted, and didn't process the transaction.. I'll give it another try later.

I can't say I like them, but... (1)

UbuntuniX (1126607) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813239)

It's good to finally see a band taking independent action against the industry.
Producers and labels would be nothing the artists, whether they are deemed insignificant or not, and they need to realise that.

I doubt it really means your own price, rather a small cost price and add what you feel is fair.

They're not independent (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813293)

That's very nice and I am sure it will net them more than they would if they released it the traditional way. But I'd like to see a completely independent band do the same. These guys are famous because their record companies have invested in them. Extremely few independent bands could support themselves on their music by letting their customers choose how much to pay for the music. They don't get enough attention and hype.

My point is that this doesn't prove that record companies are not needed. It just proves that the rich and famous can do whatever they want, and that has always been a well known fact. But those who only care about destroying the record companies and don't care about replacing them with a sustainable model, this is great, I guess.

I adore Radiohead, but... (2, Insightful)

jaypaulw (889877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813337)

They are holding back disk 2 of the record for people willing to buy the ~80USD version. So it's not all happy happy fans we love you.

CD 2
MK 1
DOWN IS THE NEW UP
GO SLOWLY
MK 2
LAST FLOWERS
UP ON THE LADDER
BANGERS AND MASH
4 MINUTE WARNING

Also, the only reason radiohead are in a position to do this is the label they used to be on. And while I think this is the perfect direction for them, but I don't think it makes sense for labels to disappear. Good labels filter out the garbage to find and promote the good bands (please don't make me list a bunch of good labels.)

Finally, the label actually does benefit from this because they will sell more copies of back catalog records as new people who have been living under rocks or graduating middle school will "discover" the band.

Anyway it's a lot to cope with in one day for a sad Radiohead obsessive like myself.

Re:I adore Radiohead, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813459)

The second cd is one of b-sides.. Much like when you buy a collectors edition. The album In Rainbows is just one disc and that is available for download. The Vinyl for instance is the first disc.

Try it backwards.. (1)

Diginosis (1132933) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813499)

1) Download the album for free.
2) a. If the album is good you give $.
2) b. If you dislike the album don't pay for it.
2) c. If you only like certain tracks give $ for those tracks.

This way if you have high expectations for the album you won't be disappointed or likewise if you have low expectations you won't be disappointed either because you paid nothing. Those who file share it will either download it compulsively (which would happen regardless) or at least have a way to justify their activities.

If implemented correctly you should be able to justify how much the album is really worth.

Odd model (4, Insightful)

iabervon (1971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813507)

The problem with this model is that people haven't heard the album, and therefore don't know how good it is, so they can't decide in an informed fashion how much they want to pay for it. Even under the assumption that people will be happiest if they pay what they feel something is worth, I expect that people's happiness falls off more quickly on the overpaying side than the underpaying side, and that people expect this is general, so people will underpay to maximize their expected happiness if they don't know what they will feel something is worth.

http://www.quoteunquoterecords.com/ (3, Informative)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813541)

Not that it's not admirable of Radiohead to do something like this, but they aren't the first musicians to work on an electronic donation based system. Here's another "record label" that is entirely donation based: http://www.quoteunquoterecords.com/ [quoteunquoterecords.com]

Steve Jobs concerned? iTunes model (1)

jaypaulw (889877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813571)

If influential bands continue to imitate radiohead like they do their with radiohead's music, this is a small spanner in works for the iTunes model.

Thom once wrote:

vee shall make zem PAY for zer mistake. ha ha ha. they vill never get avay viz ziss. vee are verrry verrry precious about are little KID A yu know and also zee others and you mr job jobs are no exception ya?

unbundle zis KID A record anda vee vill unbundle yor face.

H HA HA ha HA ha HA ha ha

(cough)

vinyl? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20813607)

Who the fuck uses vinyl except Niggers? They can't afford a cd player and got to use their grandmas record playa while eatin grits, shiiiiit

Yes, but . . . (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813651)

Will they be recruiting William Shatner [priceline.com] and Leonard Nimoy [imdb.com] to help promote it?

Magnatune (2, Informative)

bohlke (176080) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813659)

Does anyone know magnatune [www.magnatune.com]?

Hmmm.... Nice, but sadly I'm not 100% happy (3, Insightful)

soliptic (665417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20813677)

My guess is that the slashdot "groupthink" will be positive, and likewise, I'm broadly positive about the attitude behind this.

However, in the details, it ends up leaving me high and dry.

Downloads, for me, are for those cases where "there's only one or two tracks on the CD I really like". If an album is any good, I vastly prefer to buy the CD - I enjoy the physical product, the artwork, lyrics/inlay notes, the free backup, the future-proof lossless quality.

On the other hand, I've no interest in vinyl - I've got no decks!

So with a choice of "buy the mp3s" or "buy the CD and vinyl boxset", I don't really want either :(

Shame they're abandoning the middle ground of selling regular CDs, which I'd guess still represents the majority of music purchasing in the western world today.

(And no, this isn't one of these "and thus I feel justified in pirating" excuse-posts. I spend more of my money on music than any other form of leisure/luxury; over £100/mo isn't uncommon. And I'm in a band who has cd and mp3 sales [keiretsumusic.com] of our own, and we've been at the wrong end of Russian allofmp3 style sites ("wholly legitimate" cry the slashdotters - legally, perhaps, on a technicality, but not morally... they're not sending any money through) and p2p. So, if I like the sound of this, I will pay for it, but I will be slightly miffed there is no way to get a CD without also wasting money (and space) on unwanted vinyl.)

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