Over at Alley Insider, Peter Kafka waxes poetic about the Radiohead's "In Rainbows" experiment, correctly recognizing that the import of this event is not how much money Radiohead made from releasing their album with a pay-what-you-want model, but instead:
"Radiohead is likely to make a nice sum from "In Rainbows," but the real advantage that its giveaway stunt has conferred is freedom: Radiohead, not a music label, will own the songs it recorded (EMI owns all of Radiohead's earlier work, for instance). Radiohead, not a music label, can decide how to market, promote and distribute the songs -- if it wants to do any of the above. And Radiohead, not a music label, can decide when, where and how it wants to release its next album. Etc."I think Peter is partially right, clearly this freedom is a big part of what happened. But I think something more significant is going on, related to pricing mechanisms. Radiohead shifted the decision of what to pay to its audience. Allowing, in essence, its listeners to have more control in determining what the content is worth. Recognizing that each consumer has a different value they put on the content (and maybe that value changes over time too).
Radiohead clearly is in a unique situation and has much more flexibility than, say, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, or a million other bands. But methinks this is the more important trend to watch . . . .