Radiohead results

Geoffrey Manne —  6 November 2007

Radiohead: In RainbowsThe results are in:  Radiohead did . . . ok.  Before I share the specifics, let me remind you of what one seemingly prescient prognosticator said a few weeks ago:

My prediction: They will receive an average price of $2 and a median price of $0.  

So what happened?

Of those who downloaded Radiohead’s digital album, In Rainbows last month, about 62 percent walked away with the music without paying a cent, reported ComScore, an Internet research company.

About 17 percent plunked down between a penny and $4, far below the $12 and $15 retail price of a CD. The next largest group (12 percent) was willing to pay between $8 and $12–the cost of most albums at Apple’s iTunes is $9.99. They were followed by the 6 percent who paid between $4.01 and $8 and 4 percent coughed up between $12 and $20.

* * *

According to ComScore, the average amount spent for all downloads came to $2.26.

So, if my calculations are correct, Radiohead received an average price of $2.26 and a median price of $0. 

Man I’m good.

By the way–read the whole article linked above.  Some interesting comments from Chris Castle on the Radiohead “experiment.”

UPDATE:  To be fair, these kinds of claims to depend a lot on the quality fo the data. See this comment from the band on the reported figures:

“In response to purely speculative figures announced in the press regarding the number of downloads and the price paid for the album, the group’s representatives would like to remind people that, as the album could only be downloaded from the band’s website, it is impossible for outside organisations to have accurate figures on sales,” they explained.

The statement added: “However, they can confirm that the figures quoted by the company comScore Inc are wholly inaccurate and in no way reflect definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project.”

Geoffrey Manne


President & Founder, International Center for Law & Economics

3 responses to Radiohead results


    I agree that getting around the label’s cut very well could result in more take-home money for Radiohead.

    Check out what The Eagles are doing.


    True enough–I’d like to see total revenue numbers for In Rainbows (maybe someone can point me to them?). It’s certainly possible that, even at an average price of $2.26, Radiohead made more from this mode of distribution than they tipically have in the past (especially depending on what their cut from EMI was).


    compare the way public television and radio and similar providers (e.g. WFMT or KFUO, that rely on both contributors and advertisers) get money and stay afloat. The reasonable assumption is that most of the listeners or viewers are free-loaders and don’t contribute anything, yet the stations survive.