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Industry Trends

Radiohead: A Study In Music Download Behaviour

By November 21, 2007July 30th, 20232 Comments

Radiohead, a famous English alternative rock band, reached the height of their popularity in 19992 with their single “Creep”. They recently made the news when they released an album titled “In Rainbows”. The album was only available to fans for download direct from their site:

What makes this particular music release interesting is the fact that the artists eliminated the need for a major record label to promote their music and that the artist left it up to users to decide how much they wished to pay for the music they were downloading.

Choose What U Pay For Radiohead

ComScore reported that an estimated 1.2 million visitors viewed the Radiohead site during the first 29 days of October, with a significant number downloading the album. According to their research and calculations, only 62 percent of the fans who downloaded the album did not pay for it, with the remaining 38 percent paying an average of £2.93 per download.

48 percent of downloaders from the UK paid for the album, averaging £2.47 per download. A lower percentage (40%) of US downloaders paid for the album, but they paid a higher average of £3.94 per download.

Findings from the ComScore research report have come under fire with Radiohead releasing a statement questioning the validity of the numbers. ComScore replied by defending the validity of sampling as a means of estimating numbers.

Disregarding the absolute correctness of the numbers presented in ComScore’s report, a more important finding from Rodiohead’s experiment has been the likelihood that the future of the music industry is definitely set to change, with a greater number of artists seeking ways to liberate themselves from their record labels and use the power of the Internet to broadcast their music to listeners at a fraction of the cost.