Radiohead gives music away for free – kids prefer to pirate it off BitTorrent anyway
OK, this has got to have a lot of entertainment execs reaching for the Maalox. TechCrunch reports that even though Radiohead, in a much-ballyhooed move, allowed customers to set their own price point for downloading their new album (and yes, one of the options was $0.00), within a week
over 240,000 users got the album from peer to peer BitTorrent networks on the first day of release, according
to Forbes. Since then, the album was downloaded about 100,000 more
times each day, totaling more than 500,000. By comparison, Radiohead
pushed 1.2 million sales of the album through their site, including
pre-orders. File sharing networks are expected to surpass legal
downloads in the coming days.
That’s just ugly. Basically, Hollywood, the RIAA and the MPAA have so poisoned the well with the audience that even when they try something innovative to bust through the conventional ripoff business models they have established and are clinging to, the target audience out there is preferring to go to the pirate sites to get the content.
The question that arises is, why? Why would some mook with broadband prefer to navigate to Pirate Bay or TorrentSpy to find the same thing that he could get for free, or for what is absolutely no big amount of cash?
Well, the first thing that occurs to me is that the kids don’t trust the music companies, Hollywood or anything remotely resembling authority anymore. The rootkit shit that Sony pulled a while back is still reverberating, and there’s a lot of "up yours" attitude for the years of overcharging $15 for a CD that had maybe one decent song on it.
The interesting bits come in the comments on the TechCrunch story, where the commenters basically slammed Radiohead’s site for being too crowded to allow downloads for 2-3 days, and complained about the Big Brother feeling of the registration process.
Once again, interface design comes into play – like our recent experience trying to buy a classified ad from the LA Times, which resulted in an entire lost morning (simile alert: "it was like trying to buy something in a store, only the cashier keeps making you go back to the store and fill up your cart and wait in line all over again") and ultimately, no purchase of an ad in the LA Times. They really are stupid over there. When a company makes it difficult for you to give them money, there is nothing but bad news, layoffs and ultimately bankruptcy and extinction in the future for that firm.
The best that can be said from this is that maybe the labels are learning from it, and they might be ready to actually treat their customers like human beings, rather than criminals.