Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor
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October 03, 2007
Radiohead & the Set Your Own Price Debate
Rather than just offering up the content, [Radiohead is] also trying to give people a reason to actually buy something else. In this case, it's a "discbox," which will include the new album on both CD and vinyl, as well as an additional CD of seven extra songs and photos, artwork and lyrics. The whole thing will be packaged in a nice container.
In other words, the band is following in the footsteps of folks like Trent Reznor, in realizing that the music is promotional for other stuff -- and you can still sell stuff if you make it worthwhile. In this case, Radiohead isn't really selling the "music." After all, you can get that for free. They're selling the full collection of stuff that comes with the music. Funny how it's the musicians, and not the record labels, who seem to realize that adding value and getting people to pay for it is a business model that beats suing fans.
Also worth reading is this other TechDirt post:
With Radiohead's new business model getting so much attention, we're hearing a bunch of folks start to claim that this kind of business model only works for big, established bands. Funny thing is, when we point to smaller artists doing similar things, people say that such a model may work for no-name artists, but couldn't possibly work for big pop stars, who would inevitably lose money.
The fact is that a business model that involves using the music as a promotional good can work for both small and large bands if you understand the economics of infinite goods and how to apply the appropriate business model based on the stage of the musician's career.
The simple fact is that these types of business models allow some less well known musicians to have a career in music in the first place -- whereas in the past they may have been forced out of music into another job. It's opened up plenty of new possibilities for ways to make a living by growing a fanbase and charging them for additional (scarce) products.
Thanks to indie musician Alun Parry, who was the first to make me aware of this Radiohead story. He's been using this "choose your own payment plan" method for some time now. He cleverly calls it Buskernomics.
Parry, a former Liverpool Echo Busker of the Year, says, "When I was a busker I made my music freely available and bought my first guitar with the proceeds. So why not do the same now. I let people decide how much they want to pay, whether that be free or whether that be lots more. It's up to them."
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Bob Baker is an author, speaker, teacher, indie musician and former music magazine editor dedicated to showing musicians of all kinds how to get exposure, connect with fans, sell more music, and increase their incomes.
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