Thursday, October 16, 2008

on controlling the experiment.

Stereogum reported yesterday on the In Rainbows semi-anniversary that the experiment was a success. I had kind of thought this was a given fact for a long time already, but they came out and said some other stuff that made me very unhappy. Firstly, they didn't release the exact figures of the downloads.

Why not? I'm sure they know them. What's the harm in releasing this information? Unless there's something to hide, I really didn't think that a band like Radiohead would be sitting on top of this sort of stuff.

However, I might be wrong in my estimation of Radiohead in the first place anyway. There's a direct quote in this piece where they say that they (both Radiohead and the marketing firm that ran this 'experiment'), "were watching the average price daily with a view to potentially withdrawing it any moment should it drop too low."

This is troubling to me on several levels.

First of all, what is too low? In whose opinions? And what of the people that were caught somewhere in the middle? Say a couple thousand people before me paid 'the right amount' but then prices started dropping off? I then go onto the site and want to pay something like ten bucks (which I'd hope is above their precious standard), but they've already decided to pull the plug, metaphorically? What then? Do I get my music? Do they get my money?

The most troubling part of it, though, is the thought of Radiohead giving up on this experiment. Or even having the gall to plan for the possibility of giving up on it. Remember all the press on In Rainbows? About how it was going to change the music business forever? Imagine about 12 hours of that coverage followed by an even larger stream of "I told you so"s from everyone in the music business who supposedly knew better. Did it ever occur to the guys in Radiohead that if that happened, they would be doing immeasurable harm, as opposed to the good that they wanted to? Did they acknowledge this possibility? Did they care?

Radiohead's lost some points in my book for this poor decision-making.

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