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Name-Your-Cost Radiohead Album Pirated More Than Purchased

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the perhaps-you-don't-understand-the-concept-of-free dept.

Music 582

phantomfive writes "Forbes is reporting that despite Radiohead giving their latest album away 'for free', more copies of the album were pirated than downloaded from their site. Commentators offered up the opinion that this was probably more out of habit than malice. People download from regular BitTorrent sources, and may not have fully understood the band's very new approach to the subject. Regardless, Readiohead's efforts are having some measurable effect, as noted by the chairman of EMI: 'The industry, rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, has stuck its head in the sand. Radiohead's actions are a wake-up call which we should all welcome and respond to with creativity and energy.'"

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582 comments

First post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017275)

GNAA

Embarrassment (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017287)

Even if they let you get it for free by putting a 0 in the price box, it's embarrassing to do so. They're only talking to a computer but even so, it's somewhat less shameful if you're not virtually confronted by the people you're ripping off.

Re:Embarrassment (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017567)

I put -1 in the box and they sent me a dollar.

Re:Embarrassment (5, Funny)

dnormant (806535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017661)

They robbed you. It should have been $65,534!

I think it's habit - AND convenience (5, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017775)

The problem was caused by the record labels themselves.

Anytime you have something that people want, and you do not give them a legitimate market to get it, a black market will develop.

Ten years ago, technology advanced to the point that you could distribute music digitally. By denying a legitimate means of digital distribution of music from the market for so long, the music labels essentially ENCOURAGED a black market in digital music to develop. That means that 10 years later, there are mature digital distribution methods and massive amounts of consumers who know how to use them. If, instead, the labels had just charged a reasonable rate 10 years ago, these illegitimate means of distribution would not have developed nearly as much.

So when consumers have the option of a free song from Radiohead's site, and a free song from the same place they're getting all of their other free music, why bother going to the Radiohead site?

Re:I think it's habit - AND convenience (3, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017875)

Oh, puhlease. "legitmate market to get it" These people won't pay a friggin' dime. There's no "black market" as that assumes payment. Hint: even black marketeers demand money. These people simply engage in wholesale rip-off.

Re:Embarrassment (5, Insightful)

antek9 (305362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017923)

And it's a real no-brainer to put any number but zero in there, because you know that it all goes directly to the artists.

I also got the album via a torrent first, because the day after the launch it was simply impossible to reach the Radiohead server, seeing that it had been slashdotted or something (can't be that much of a failure then, now can it?). Thanks for the follow-up story; I almost forgot that I wanted to return to radiohead.com in order to show my appreciation for this great step forward by paying the band. Those guys have been one of my favourite acts for something like ten years.

Short version: 'Piracy' sure is the wrong word here. That's like saying 'Oh no, the new Mandriva version is being shared on torrents more than it is being downloaded directly from mandriva.com. Damn those pirates!'. Get a life. By seeding, people donate their own bandwidth to prevent the band's server from melting down. Whether or not they come back later to pay for the music is a completely different story, but as for me, I just did.

Re:Embarrassment (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21018003)

May be true, but also some people may not know that it's free, some people just wanna save them the bandwidth (I would) and hey, what do you know, people download music without knowing WHAT music they download or be THAT intrested and would probably never had bought the album even thought they fetched it.

Or maybe (4, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017291)

Instead of sugared-up theories about why this happened, it's possible that the model simply won't work.

Ask (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017573)

Ask Jonathan Coulton [jonathancoulton.com] if the model works.

Or maybe the guys at Magnatune. [magnatune.com]

They still seem pretty sold on it.

Re:Or maybe (4, Insightful)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017611)

Radiohead themselves will define whether or not it was a success.

If they end up making more money off this album than if they had released it through traditional means I would say that would be an attractive means of distrobution.

But it might not just be money they are looking at to determine success.
More exposure and new fans could appear from the multitudes of downloaders.

Re:Or maybe (Econ 101 for Music Artists) (3, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017857)

If they end up making more money off this album than if they had released it through traditional means I would say that would be an attractive means of distribution.

True.

The average beginning artist makes somewhere between 1 and 4 cents per CD (usually 0.01 to 0.02 USD). An established artist can get around $2.00 per CD.

If they got $8.00 per download they were wildly successful, even if 0.01 UDS (1 cent) was the cost to distribute it.

Just do the very very simple math.

Re:Or maybe (5, Insightful)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017961)

If they end up making more money off this album than if they had released it through traditional means I would say that would be an attractive means of distrobution.

There is also another very valuable lesson for the bands and labels to learn:

If an end user would rather get their content at no cost from a piracy website than get the same content at no cost from legitimate channels, then that means:

The label is offering an inferior product to the pirated version.

Whether it is service, selection, convenience, trust, or all of the above, the labels need to wake the fuck up and realize that only one thing will ever beat piracy, and that is quality...delivering a quality product every fucking step of the way. People simply will not shell out cash for anything less. No DRM. No PC-incompatible discs. No opt-out marketing bullshit.

Sell the product people want, how they want it, and when they want it, and you'll make money hand-over-fist. Look at iTunes.

Re:Or maybe (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017667)

Instead of sugared-up theories about why this happened, it's possible that the model simply won't work.

How can it not work? If anybody pays (or rather, if enough people pay to cover hosting costs) it's a win for the band. The model isn't about selling music, it's about using music as promotion. Smaller bands (some, like the Crimea, only a bit smaller) have been doing this for years. Even the 'name your price' angle isn't new.

The real model is to make your nut off the other stuff--concerts, merch, etc. That's why you hear the studios talking about getting a bigger piece of that business.

Re:Or maybe (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017809)

(or rather, if enough people pay to cover hosting costs) it's a win for the band

Well that's fairly obvious, but this is not a Linux distro. Producing the music also costs money. Coming out even on the bandwidth used to distribute the music would not be enough.

Re:Or maybe (4, Insightful)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017899)

Bands/artists rarely, if ever, make money on album sales. Don't let the RIAA fool you. If Radiohead was making a significant amount of money on album sales with their old label, do you think they would have changed to this new method? Most likely not. Radiohead has already succeeded on this album simply by the new found hype surrounding their music. Now when they go on tour they'll have even more sold venues and more merch sales. Artists make their millions by touring, not by selling albums.

Re:Or maybe (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017911)

Well that's fairly obvious, but this is not a Linux distro. Producing the music also costs money.


Yes, in contrast to the creation of a Linux distribution, which doesn't cost any money and doesn't take any effort.

Errrr, right.

Re:Or maybe (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017829)

I'd say that it's still too soon to call this a failure. There are any number of reasons why it is looking like this. I used to always use a pirated serial number for windows, even though I had a legitimate copy. The main reason being convenience, it was more convenient to crack it than it was to remember where that disc was and then type in the code.

In this case, its hard to say why, it could be as simple as convenience, if you already are downloading through a p2p app, it is more convenient to pay $0 in that manner than it is to go to the site and pay $0. I personally think the band should be paid a couple of dollars either way, but from a technical standpoint that is allowed.

I don't think that this is unlike the iphone which has an abysmal market share presently. Apple seems to be making a few adjustments to the program to account for consumer interest, and they'll likely in the near future see more success with the phones. I wouldn't be surprised if the same applies to this album.

Re:Or maybe (1)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017877)

People might simply want download the album "for free" to decide if the album is worth it. And how much it is worth to them. Likely most people have downloaded the music first, some have decided they dont like it and yet others bought the album for what they thought it was worth.

And if the band gets more money out of this model then by a deal with a record company this is working.

It wasn't pirated ever (3, Interesting)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017305)

Terms of the contract allow the user to specify no payment value and still download. Piracy is theft. Offering an item at optional cost does not allow for it to be stolen.

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (0)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017375)

There was a minimum 0.45 fee applied to cover credit card cost, so if people went to bittorrent, etc., it could be pirated.

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017437)

"There was a minimum 0.45 fee applied to cover credit card cost, so if people went to bittorrent, etc., it could be pirated."

Or since the 0.45 fee would entirely cover the credit card processing to recover the fee, people eliminated the credit card processing and thus the 0.45 minimum fee.

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017445)

There's a 45p charge only if you input values higher than zero. Otherwise, it's free as in beer and part of Radiohead's model of "pay what you want." People might want not to pay anything, and Radiohead acknowledge that.

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (1)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017879)

That's not what was originally reported, but I just tried it myself and you are correct!

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017407)

Piracy is copyright infringement, not theft. Unless the work was explicitly distributed with a license that allowed redistribution it is just as much infringement to copy a work you got for free as one you paid for.

You are only right that it cannot be stolen because copyright infringement and theft are two entirely separately legal issues.

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (5, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017409)

Uh... You're still conflating things that aren't supposed to be.

Piracy, as the term is applied to Protected Works is properly called "Infringement" and should be referred to as such. Theft implies that one is deprived of the item so stolen- there is no such thing going on with Infringement.

Now, having said this, I wish Forbes would fscking QUIT calling things like this "piracy" as you're dead on right
in everything else- if the deal was, you can download it for nada, etc. you aren't actually infringing.

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017411)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first official "ignore the entire issue of people just wanting free shit and wave the semantics flag as hard as you can" post. Anyone care to place a bet on when the "IT'S NOT STEALING IT'S COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!" crowd arrives to the party?

Slashdot is so goddamned predictable...

Re:It wasn't pirated ever (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017479)

That is true, but in the interest of striking a blow against the MAFIAA distribution models and out of respect for the band one should offer to pay *something* for downloading the album, even if that is only one dollar. If the album is worth zero dollars then why are those people downloading it? Are they trying to say that they derive zero dollars worth of entertainment value from listening to the album? If that is the case then why listen? At the very least, people should explain why they cannot afford to pay a dollar for the album before downloading it (in a text box area). There may be some good reasons why a genuinely deserving fan cannot afford to pay for the album, but surely that is the exception and not the rule.

If you want to download the album then pay what you can or think is appropriate people...don't be a leacher.

Torrenting as a kindness? (1)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017321)

Perhaps people just didn't want to overload their servers?

If I had no intention of paying, but wanted a copy, I might have downloaded it off of a torrent just so that their server didn't have to give me the whole thing.

I'm getting it off some random schmucks and contributing *my* bandwidth towards serving their songs up. Seems like a possible explanation to me anyway.

They don't get to add another number to their "people who downloaded from us" but their server costs go down somewhat.
I dunno if it's malevolent or kind to do this :P Apparently they were alright with people downloading with no payment, suggesting that it'd be better to just leech off of them rather than torrent it, but it still seems wrong. Don't a sizable number of slashdotters seed (linux distro) torrents after completing, in the hopes that they can give a little bit back to their favourite OS?

Re:Torrenting as a kindness? (1)

fyrie (604735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017405)

The servers were overloaded. I tried to purchase a copy around 2pm CST on the day it was released and it took me roughly 2 hours of reattempts to make it to the pay server. The thought did cross my mind to just go snag it off a torrent site because it would have been much easier to get it at that point, but I decided to play a part in the big experiment. To sum it up: their server could not meet demand when it was released. That may have played at least a partial role in increasing non-paid torrent downloads.

Re:Torrenting as a kindness? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017709)

The difference there is that the distributions are explicitly licensed to be distributed freely. The Radiohead album was not. If someone really wanted to help Radiohead out with their album distribution he or she could have just asked them if they wanted to set up a tracker.

Re:Torrenting as a kindness? (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017849)

I'm seeding Ubuntu and Gentoo this very moment.

I don't think most people are that conscious of it though in regards to Radiohead. It's still easier and much faster to get it from a torrent rather than traditional download technologies. It makes total sense and they should have just charged people for a tracker and use BT anyways which would have lowered their operational costs while providing the same service.

The real question should be, how much money did they make in profit? Was it worthwhile? Would minimizing bandwidth costs result in a net profit?

Re:Torrenting as a kindness? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017883)

Perhaps people just didn't want to overload their servers?

I've done this before. When they released the first C&C as freeware, I initially went to download it from the site. After seeing the download proceed at 1kbps, I found a torrent of it, which gave me ~200kbps.

Re:Torrenting as a kindness? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017965)

"Perhaps people just didn't want to overload their servers?"

Perhaps if they offered it in a bit rate higher than crappy 160 Kbps then more people would buy it.

Middle (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017323)

I got mine off pirate bay. I have all their other major releases on CDs. I'm not paying for 160kbps [i'm not an audiophile, i'm just not deaf] tracks and i'm not paying for an $80 box set. Radiohead, this was nice, but set up a middleground please.

Re:Middle (5, Insightful)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017361)

A middle ground such as ... I don't know, paying zero dollars?
I know it's not losslessly encoded ogg vorbis or flac files delivered to your door with a complimentary pie and a pretty pony, but it's a good middle ground.

Re:Middle (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017873)

Hey, man, I expect all that... and a pre-K-Fed Britney Spears to give me a blowjob!
 
...Yes, wearing the schoolgirl uniform!

Re:Middle (1)

krunoce (906444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017881)

Actually I agree with the anonymous guy. They should have put out a normal priced CD as well. That way, if I do pirate the tracks and like them, then I might be inclined to buy it. But asking 80$ is an unreasonable price for a CD. Especially because I don't care about the other stuff in the box.

Leader's sacrifice (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017329)

That's the price they pay for being the first to try this. Bittorrent is less expensive, faster (often), more convenient and less restrictive that a lot of the other methods. So even the album was free, one might still prefer to use via a torrent indexer.

Re:Leader's sacrifice (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017591)

I think what would really help is some mechanism to ensure a payment is received before you can connect to a BT tracker. Similar to some trackers that require registration, but a step up to ensure you have paid for that particular file. As an incentive to seed, offer some sort of rebate or shop credit for seeding to a certain ratio.

This way, BitTorrent can be used in a more direct and obvious method for legitimate content distribution, the seller saves a some bandwidth and the customer gets what they want when they want it.
=Smidge=

I Bought the DiscBox (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017331)

I bought the disc box for ~$80 USD. Not because I thought it was a great album but because I wanted to support this model. The album is ok from what I've heard on MPR but it's growing on me.

I was curious so I asked around at work, it sounds like people are pay around four or five pounds ($8-$10). And I'm glad that I haven't had to guilt trip anyone into paying for it. Although, everyone I work with does receive a decent paycheck. I hope that by buying the discbox and encouraging people to buy it, it offsets the poorer people and the college kids. Having been in both those places, I sympathize heavily with them.

But, I hope that with writing, music & software people will realize how easy it is to disseminate the product and more will open up to the model of charging very little to touch millions instead of charging millions to reach very little.

I hope the shipping of the discbox goes better for Radiohead than it did for Prince. I can't wait to get my hands on that vinyl. I don't care what you say, it feels good to 'own' something even though the rights and definitions of that seem to deteriorate daily.

Re:I Bought the DiscBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017603)

I bought the disc box for ~$80 USD. Not because I thought it was a great album but because I wanted to support this model. The album is ok from what I've heard on MPR but it's growing on me.

it would grow on me if I payed $80 too...

website was melted down (5, Informative)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017339)

inrainbows.com was more or less useless for 2-3 days after the release. I did end up buying a copy for a few dollars, but it was much, much faster to just download the damn thing off of BitTorrent.

Re:website was melted down (1)

h4xor ch1x (1160849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017377)

I know, it was ridiculously bogged down on wednesday when I tried it, it worked better a few days later.

Re:website was melted down (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017439)

Aaaand, I suspect that this was the MAIN reason why it was BitTorrented instead of DLed from their site.

But then, asking for Journalistic Integrity from Forbes (they let Dan Lyons spew his rubbish, right?) is
like asking the poo flingers on /. to not post.

Prerelease leaks (1)

The Iso (1088207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017341)

Lots of my friends torrented the album early. Let all this conserved bandwidth be a lesson to Radiohead about not releasing the album when it's finished.

Re:Prerelease leaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017889)

What lesson? That people don't have enough patience to wait a short amount of time? Seems more like a problem with people feeling entitled to have something right when they want it.

Readiohead, hmmm.. (1)

EvenClevererNickName (1172663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017343)

My favorite band. Just like the Beatles..

Tried to 'buy', did not work... still waiting... (5, Informative)

knarf (34928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017363)

I actually tried to buy the album. I entered all the sensitive data the site told me to, only to be presented with an empty order. It is still unclear to me whether my card will be charged or not as I clicked the OK (or whatever it was called) button to proceed with the transaction, but I have not received any details about how and where to download the album. Needless to say I did not try again as I do not want to be charged several times for something I might not even get. Yes, charged - I told them I'd pay 5 UKP for the album. Not a lot but a lot more than they'd get through the label...

I have not downloaded the album in any other way yet. There might be others with the same experience out there who decided that the hassle of going through the official channel was not worth the effort - a regular P2P download is still a lot easier.

Re:Tried to 'buy', did not work... still waiting.. (2, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017617)

I actually tried to buy the album. I entered all the sensitive data


And that's where I stopped, at the enter the sensitive data part. Why not use Paypal? Having to register with yet another online entity - secure.xurbiaxendless.com - is a definite turn-off.

It's too bad, my girlfriend is a big radiohead fan and wanted it for her birthday. She got the new Feist album instead. I'll wait for the plastic disc to turn up in the stores.

RIAA / UK media (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017371)

As a Brit, I'm curious as to how your RIAA (which comes over as a pretty damn scary organization) regulate copyright protection on non-US labels/media, and in particular this case where the songs are effectively being given away. Do they bother with non-US stuff at all?

Re:RIAA / UK media (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017475)

Trade agreements with other countries. So they could get..say.. Scotland yard to bust someone.

Re:RIAA / UK media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017525)

because when you sign up to the WTO etc. they can control your country and direct the agencies to investigate you.

EMI Chairman says... (5, Funny)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017381)

'The industry, rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, has stuck its head in the sand. Radiohead's actions are a wake-up call which we should all welcome and respond to with creativity and energy.'"
Translation:

Please, pretty please, please come back. EMI loves you. EMI is your friend. We miss you guys! Just another little contract, one short one! Please? Just sign it? Please? Pretty please?

Re:EMI Chairman says... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017729)

Please, pretty please, please come back. EMI loves you. EMI is your friend. We miss you guys! Just another little contract, one short one! Please? Just sign it? Please? Pretty please?

NO.

Ah... that felt SOooo GoooOOd! :D Let me say it again.

NO!

:D~~

How would they know? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017391)

I see plenty of speculation about the number of downloads, the number of purchasers, and how much they're spending, but absolutely nothing from any credible source. I'm waiting to hear what the band say the figures are, perhaps sometime next year.

It's probably not wise to assume that each download is a lost sale though. A lot of people are going to grab it now for free and pay for it later, so they get it at higher than 160kbps, or in OGG/APE etc.

More people downloaded from radiohead's site (2, Informative)

FunkLord84 (838348) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017607)

FTA: "Over the following days, the file was downloaded about 100,000 more times each day--adding up to more than 500,000 total illegal downloads.

That's less than the 1.2 million legitimate online sales of the album reported by the British Web site Gigwise.com."

So, where does the alternate interpretation in the /. abstract come from? Seriously, wha?

Convenience is key (4, Informative)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017395)

Radiohead refused to release their music anywhere but their own web site. None of the major stores, physical or digital have access to it yet. And the 800lb gorilla of digital sales, iTunes, will never have access to it as long as Apple demands customers be allowed to download at least some tracks ala carte while Radiohead demands their music be sold only in full albums.

On the other hand, their music was presumably available as usual at all the normal pirate hang outs.

This isn't rocket science folks.

On another note, I do have to wonder about the context of the sensationalized claim that "more copies of the album were pirated than [legally] downloaded". Isn't that true for practically _every_ album released in the last decade?

people don't want to give their information... (1)

Capeman (589717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017403)

In order to get it from radiohead's site you must enter your personal information, even when you aren't paying, so many people don't have the time to fill the form or simply don't want to.

Don't have to give real information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017797)

You could easily enter fake information and a throwaway email.

Re:people don't want to give their information... (1)

clsours (1089711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017851)

This is the real issue here. The best way to get $$ from people is to get real information about real people. IMHO, this was the whole point of the set-your-price venture. To get information about their customers, get them signed up for newsletters (however you may feel about them), and get licensed media in the hands of fans. You may not like it, but advertising works, and will continue to work, and for every person who entered their email and didn't uncheck the little box, Radiohead gets another potential sale.

Uh hold on (1)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017423)

If I and 6 others download a full album off of radiohead's site, radiohead has to pay for the bandwidth. If I download it from radiohead's site(as I was about to do; I have hatched a plan with kurzweilfreak(am I confusing you with someone else?) to get their box set with vynil in the not too distant future, may as well hear what it sounds like first) --- and then upload it to 6 others, the result is pretty much exactly the same, only they save themselves some money. How is this piracy, exactly -- I'm saving radiohead money?

Re:Uh hold on (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017947)

Radiohead holds the right to determine distribution. Unless they stated it's OK to do as you've said, that is how.

Summary Title? (2, Informative)

smaddox (928261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017441)

The article clearly states that the number of pirated copies was less than half that of non-pirated copies... Why such a blatant mistake?

Anyways, I didn't pirate it because my friend put it on my USB stick for me (fair use).

I'm glad they (supposedly) found a way to cut out the middleman, though. The more money that goes to the creators, the better. If I wasn't a poor student, I would be glad to give them some.

I guess they'll just have to wait till they go on tour near where I live.

Re:Summary Title? (1)

Golden Section (961595) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017713)

From TFA:
> The file [had] more than 500,000 total illegal downloads. That's less than the 1.2 million
> legitimate online sales of the album [...]. But Eric Garland says illegal file-sharing is
> likely to overtake legal downloads in the coming weeks.

The submitter writes:
> Forbes is reporting that more copies of the album were pirated than downloaded from their site.

Sensational /. story, exactly opposite of what the source article said. There ought to be
a job opening for a Fact Checker here... "If it doesn't pass, your post will be denied."

huh? fair use vs. stealing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017815)

Anyways, I didn't pirate it because my friend put it on my USB stick for me (fair use).

I'm a strong proponent of fair use, meaning I fight against any attempt to eliminate the user's right to make a backup copy or do time-shifting of broadcast content. I donate to EFF and write my congresscritters.

But having your friend copy his paid-for album onto your USB stick isn't fair use in any sense that I understand (legal or ethical).

Re:Summary Title? (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017959)

The article clearly states that the number of pirated copies was less than half that of non-pirated copies... Why such a blatant mistake?


Not just that, but the main reason many people downloaded it on the first day, is that the official site was effectively unresponsive for most of the day (and most of the second day, as well). So, like many others I'm sure, I first downloaded the mp3's using some bittorrent site (which took about 3 minutes), then paid a couple of pounds when the site was functional again (2 days later).

Because we all read Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017447)

Hell, with the new comment system, I might stop entirely, but that's another story.

The fact is, we're a bunch of geeks, Radiohead is a single band, and I don't recall seeing this story anywhere *but* Slashdot.

Chances are, people downloading the album from other sources simply don't *know* that the band is doing a 'name your own price' deal. Oh - yes, I know, 'But fans! Fans!'

Fans my arse - the last time I visited a band website was approximately two years ago :P

Now, who are these EMI folks, and why are they making scary amounts of sense? I recognize the name, but it comes with the horror of 'label' attached. Can it be, from the city of the fallen, we have one of the faithful? :P

It doesn't matter... (3, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017455)

...if a lot of people "pirated" it, as long as enough people pay for it. Since they are selling direct, one person who coughs up $5.00 is akin to probably 100 people buying an RIAA CD, as far as money in Radiohead's pocket goes. They could have TONS of unpaid for copies circulating, and still make more than selling CDs through the media cartel.

Re:It doesn't matter... (1)

brjndr (313083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017719)

So just because fewer people pirate with this model than with CD based sales, Radiohead is just supposed to accept the piracy?

Re:It doesn't matter... (3, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017983)

Yes. I could argue the wrongness of practically perpetual copyright and how accepting THAT is immoral, etc... but I don't have to.

Hundreds of millions of people have the capability of getting a copy, without taking one from someone else, without spending a cent, without investing any materials, without incurring any risk. With less effort than wiping their ass. Asking them to pay for this nebulous thing they can have without cost to themselves or anyone else is essentially appealing to their sense of charity. Some will give, some won't. It has to be accepted because its inevitable.

You can hate the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. You can refuse to accept it. But its still going to happen without fail and there's not a damned thing you can do about it.

You're better off accepting it and enjoy the ride and save your sanity. Which appears to be what Radiohead has done, since they are ACCEPTING people offering NOTHING and still letting them download it.

Re:It doesn't matter... (0)

christurkel (520220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017987)

Prince released his album "Crystal Ball" via his website only in 1997. It sold 150,000 copies and he said it was the most money he had ever made from album up to that point.

500k1200k? (5, Informative)

carbon16 (1108819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017477)

The /. headline is bogus. From TFA:

Over the following days, the file was downloaded about 100,000 more times each day--adding up to more than 500,000 total illegal downloads.
and

That's less than the 1.2 million legitimate online sales of the album reported by the British Web site Gigwise.com.
I can understand the "rushing-to-post-firsters" not R'ing TFA, but the editors? Come on guys, help us help you.

I hope this moves things in the right direction (1)

Borg453b (746808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017495)

The other day I read that their project was going well, so i figured i'd back it up. Bought the downloads for 10 pounds. Having purchased a bit of music online as of late, that has had me burn, then rip music, just to make it play on my W900i, i welcome their DRM free approach. I hope this initiative moves things in the right direction.

On the topic of the SE Walkman phone.. are any of you guys having trouble with the cable interface. Mine's getting loose and ive had it for a year and a half (as far as i recall). I love being able to listen to music on my phone, and not having to worry about overhearing calls.. but having to worry about a cable that falls out - that kind of spoils it.

Just my two cents - well 10 pounds ;)

Compare Piracy Margins against other Albums (1)

GroovinWithMrBloe (832127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017505)

The article is a bit lacking in information. So, even if the album is being pirated more than purchased, how does that ratio compare to other album releases? Does it show a big/small/non-existent change? Or a negative change (i.e. people pirate more because they know its free anyway, which I doubt, but hey). For all we know, most albums could be pirated double,triple,etc... more times than the Radiohead one is.

The buzz generated by the band's pay-what-you-want publicity stunt may also boost sales. Radiohead's previous album sold only 300,000 copies in the first week--about one-sixth the number of copies of In Rainbows now in circulation.
While it's a bit unfair to compare album sales of the same artist over time and try link the increases purely to price, you could say that even if it didn't decrease piracy, it certainly increased Radioheads piggy banks!

Factually incorrect headline (5, Informative)

cascino (454769) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017507)

Headline: "Name-Your-Cost Radiohead Album Pirated More Than Purchased."

Quote from article:

On the first day that Radiohead's latest became available, around 240,000 users downloaded the album from copyright-infringing peer-to-peer BitTorrent sources, according to Big Champagne, a Los-Angeles-based company that tracks illegal downloading on the Internet. Over the following days, the file was downloaded about 100,000 more times each day--adding up to more than 500,000 total illegal downloads.

That's less than the 1.2 million legitimate online sales of the album reported by the British Web site Gigwise.com. But Eric Garland, Big Champagne's chief executive, says illegal file-sharing is likely to overtake legal downloads in the coming weeks...

Well, I guess people named their cost... (2, Interesting)

kingduct (144865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017519)

Actually, this demonstrates some problems with the approach: for instance, it adds yet another place one needs to look for content. Whether good or not, the Pirate Bay successfully consolidates where one looks for media.

No need to look all over the place. I haven't tried to purchase the release, but I wonder what sort of server they are running. Could it handle the traffic? Bittorrent might be the logical approach.

Maybe they should have released directly to bittorrent with a 5 second "share-sic" ad before each song that said to buy it at "name your cost" prices on the website to remove the ad (naturally, anyone would figure out how to get rid of the ad, I just think that if they established themselves as the primary tracker for their music, others wouldn't bother, so at least they'd get their message out).

Of course, they could have given a free license to the whole thing, and said "screw copyrights!"

Also, long term profits/concert tickets/publicity/etc. will have to be calculated before evaluating their experiment from a capitalist/profit perspective.

So where are the stats... (4, Interesting)

is as us Infinite (920305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017535)

... about piracy of albums that weren't released with a user-pricing model? I want to know how many times other albums are downloaded comapared to purchased.

I know that Trent Reznor has publicly stated that he knows his latest album, Nine Inch Nails' 'Year Zero' was pirated a lot, and that he was happy people were listening to it, but unhappy about the albums pricing schemes and that he himself (and the musicians, audio engineers, etc. who made the album) didn't get much money from the album.

I'll bet Radiohead get more money from this than any of their other albums, despite the fact that the total amount of money made may be lower...

How Much? (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017539)

In my mind, the real test of how successful this experiment is depends entirely on the total amount of money ultimately made, not how many legal downloads (with zero or non-zero price paid), not how many bittorrent downloads, not even the average amount paid. If the band's take is higher or equal to their last album I think you can say it was a success. The key thing is that with the record companies out of the loop, you would probably only need to pull in about $1-2 per legal download to match a traditional album release in terms of money going directly to the band, assuming there were as many paid downloads as would otherwise have been CD sales.

Re:How Much? (1)

ZoneGray (168419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017743)

>> depends entirely on the total amount of money ultimately made

Exactly. And that's what the record industry has just never been able to figure out. Not that their task is easy. But ultimately, an artist doesn't (shouldn't) care whether he sells 1,000,000 at ten cents or 100,000 at a dollar. But they haven't really figured out how to charge ten cents effectively, and... oh fuck, we all know by now how clueless they are. The main point being that fighting piracy only helps them sell more downloads in theory. In practice, that business will cease to exist in its traditional form.

More revealing is the new Madonna contract with LiveNation instead of a record company. Performance is where the money is nowadays, not in selling discs or even downloads. In the 70's, bands would go on tour to sell their records. Now, bands record CD's so they can go on tour. It's completely logical if you think about how the economics have changed.

Pre-Order (5, Insightful)

Pallazzio (974406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017545)

The moment I heard about this, I gave them 5 pounds and got myself on the pre-order list. Then when the 10th rolled around, I got an email with a link to my copy and it worked painlessly. I applaud Radiohead for this bold move, I've been saying for years that this is how it should be done. This was the first album I've paid for in years. Thank you Radiohead for ushering in the beginning of the end for the big record labels and all of their douchebaggery.

Maybe they don't want to register.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21017553)

Personally, I was kind of turned off of downloading it from their site, as it requires registration with the site that handles the "order".. I doubt I'll ever use it again, and I just don't want yet another password to keep track of. And I'd kind of like to avoid entering that personal info, though it's not that big of a deal..
I'd rather get it "for free" from somewhere else if I could.

(What's with, after clicking "pay now", the artificial "YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN A QUEUE" that is just a pre-set delay before going to the next page? It appears to just be some simple javascript, apparently not based on any actual... queue.
And having Mobile Phone with an asterisk next to it, like name and address, etc., but home phone does not? I guess I'd just enter 'NONE' for mobile phone number, or 555-5555.)

Here's why... (1)

BlueF (550601) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017559)

Convenience.

Users who are savvy enough to download torrents are more like to go the torrent route ANYWAY, even if the music is offered "free" from the musicians site, simply because it's far more convenient. No registration, no waiting in line, and while the bandwidth was fine for me -- downloaded from Radiohead's site at 1000k/sec, out of curiosity -- torrenting likely would have been much quicker (from start to finish). As if those reason's weren't enough, I'd hazard a guess that many torrent users appreciate the sense of "community", in sharing files for other users. Not all, but I'd say there is an element of "honor among theives"... sharing files to a good ratio for the average torrent user.

And, if you're curious, I didn't pay anything to Radiohead for this album because I never do buy CDs until I've listened to an album a half-dozen times and decide I like the music enough to buy it, which I usually do (used from eBay/Amazon). Sadly, this album did nothing for me and I promptly deleted it after one half-hearted attempt to get through the entire thing (sorry Radiohead fans). Still, KUDOS to the band for going this route, despite the nay-sayers.

Even though it was free... (1)

Spasmodeus (940657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017575)

I pirated it because forbidden fruit is sooo much sweeter.

It's digitization, not digitalization!! Argg! (0, Offtopic)

gwait (179005) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017579)

I know - I know, off topic rant,

but for some reason I see red when marketspeak types use that word.

Hint Try googling digitalization:

Did you mean: digitization

They probably are on profit already (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017585)

I'm inclined to believe they've already made more money than they would have received from the label. As you see reading the posts, some paid 1$, some paid 5 pounds, some bought the 80$ version...

They probably would have made in the best case scenario 0.8-1.2$ from a CD through the label (so much only because they're famous and can negotiate better deals).

Also consider the transaction fee of 0.45, from which about 0.2 is probably going directly in their pocket...

One big issue they missed... (1)

gen0c1de (977481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017595)

The Radiohead's website was serving so many downloads it was taking hours to download. I know personally people that went paid some money and then hit up a torrent. OR they have bought the box set, and hit the torrents as it was faster and freed up some bandwidth for those that have no clue there are faster ways of getting it.

RTFA, *editors*! (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017675)

First of all, TFA says no such thing as the summary.

Second, Radiohead reports taking an average sales price of around $8/album, even factoring in the people offering $0.00 for it.

Third, Radiohead gets that whole $8, minus hosting (promotion and engineering always come out of the artists' share of the pie anyway). That makes this a wildly successful endeavor, considering that your typical top-40 artist makes the equivalent of an upper middle class income (in the $200k range, IIRC).



As a disclaimer, I don't personally care for radiohead (though I can stand one or two of their "sellout popular" songs). But as an experiment, this one shook the music industry like an 18 month old baby.

All these typo pun and fun about "digidigization" (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017683)

"You will be annihili .. annihiliga .. ann .. damn ! WHO wrote this script ?! A 5 year old ???"

Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah on ending sequence in Star Control 2.

Here's an idea. (3, Interesting)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017701)

Why didn't they just put a torrent tracker on the official site? The bandwidth overload problem is _exactly_ what BT was designed to solve.

Or perhaps (1)

Aedrin (1175509) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017753)

...the site was so slow that purchasing the album was impossible. And fans just wanted to listen to the music.

Because it's easier to BT (1)

tkw954 (709413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017761)

Maybe it's because there were significant download delays. For people who weren't going to pay anyway $0 $0 + hassle. And Radiohead should be happy; they didn't have to pay for the download bandwidth of freeloaders.

You make more sales in person at concerts (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017779)

And then the artist gets half the cost of the DVD or CD on average.

But if it's name your cost, some people might have thought free.

Besides, even free is not free - you pay a TAX for music copying and artist recompense on every blank CD-R/W or DVD-R/W you buy.

I paid five British pounds (3, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017793)

That's about ten US dollars, and is far more than they would have received had they sold me a CD in the traditional way.

I wanted to encourage them, and to send a message to other musicians that offerring music for direct download will definitely benefit them.

I compose for and play the piano, and offer my recordings for free download from my website - see my sig. I get a couple thousand downloads a month. My aim in offerring my music for free is to build up a fan base, so that in a few years, when I start playing professionally, there will be lots of people who know my music and will be tickets to my concerts.

Hadn't heard about this until now (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017921)

Upon reading that Radiohead was allowing folks to set their own price for the download, I went to their website and paid £2 (with their service charge it came out to $4.99). The registration was somewhat intrusive (they want your phone number, but I falsified that part). The songs are in 160kbps and downloaded quickly. I didn't see any other comments on here saying "It works", so count this one as proof.

Inconvenience is as much a price to pay as money. (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017927)

I think this and Apple's iTunes success stories indicate something that the record companies have never thought about. It's not that--outside of a very small number of people--that people want to pirate music. What they want is convenience: the convenience to download it and load it on their favorite device with little hassle.

What people in the music industry and the software development industries forget is that inconvenience is as much a price to pay as is actual money. Different people may place a different monetary amount on inconvenience than others may--but it's still just as much a price to pay. And from the sounds of it, it was more convenient to pirate Radiohead's music than it was to simply go to their web site and offer to pay nothing for the music.

Apple's iTunes has become quite successful because it has proved that for a sizeable percentage of the population, the convenience of point, click, buy, sync to player without the associated hassles around getting the right driver to work or setting up some weird subscription thingy is worth the $0.99 (in the US) per track. I bet you if Radiohead had some convenient distribution mechanism that was exceedingly easy for people to use--even easier to use than BitTorrant--then people would have happily paid $10 for the album.

I think this illustrates a larger trend: making things easy to use (that is, making them convenient) will be worth more and more money to people as they come to realize there is a choice. Any company which fails to make something easy to use or easy to buy or easy to play with will find itself squashed either by companies who 'get it', or by pirates who bypass the little inconveniences that groups like the RIAA insist upon imposing on us.

Maybe because the site sucks (1)

optilude (233718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017935)

Like most musicians' websites, the In Rainbows site (http://www.inrainbows.com) sucks. It's confusing and ugly and doesn't feel like the web at all. It'd take me half the time to get the file from some BitTorrent site. I would actually pay for it, but their site scared me away. No way am I putting my credit card number into that. :)

If they made it a bit less quirky, they'd probably tilt the numbers a bit. Probably not enough to bring piracy down to zero, but a lot of people do not feel good about piracy and would prefer something that felt legit.

Website was down (1)

jbischof (139557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017941)

I don't know why nobody mentioned that the radio head album was down most of the first day. I tried to download it then and couldn't get a copy. It certainly must have skewed the numbers if the server goes down the day of the big launch.

CDs (1)

neoprog (1006513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017945)

I can't possibly be the only one in the world who still loves to collect the physical medium? I'd like to have a CD copy of the album with a plastic case and everything. And, I don't need the 2 LPs nor do I have the $80 for discbox - So come on guys, give me CD to buy!

Radiohead's Newest Album? (2, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21017999)

Was there an option for them to pay me to listen?
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