I just downloaded Radiohead’s "In Rainbows". 

I jumped on it after  Digital Media Wire highlighted a Billboard report that the band’s pay-what-you-want scenario will end officially as of December 10.  XL Recordings in the UK and ATO Records here in the States will release the CD at the beginning of the new year, and the band is in talks to have the album avialable via iTunes.

Using an average price of $6 (here and here) for the 38% of downloaders who opted to pay suggests a gross revenue of nearly $3 million.  Not bad.

Of course, you can find plenty of punditry throughout the blogosphere on what this means for the music industry.  However, what can’t be ignored is that, given a choice, the majority opted to pay nothing.  Which suggests that the "name your price" scenario might not be the industry’s–or the artists’–salvation.

But it’s a smart strategy if you agree that the most precious commodity these days is attention.  Radiohead used the strength of its brand to ensure that the world knew that they had a new release.  This primed the pump for fans to take action.  The group leveraged their brand and engaged their millions of worldwide fans to build buzz and, hopefully, attendance on their tour dates, along with which comes merchandising sales. That’s where they can see real money, and they know it.  And, even if they didn’t have monster sales from this initiative, they can point to an active audience, which gives them leverage when negotiating with the other partners they’ll need during the course of this release.

Additional coverage of "In Rainbows" in the business press and blogosphere:

Posted by Rob Fields