Radiohead’s next album In Rainbows is being released on October 10th. The album is only available via the Radiohead website, and the catch is that they are letting users decide how much, if any, to pay for the content. This is a brand that is already proven. They already have a following and can easily monetize from it, but have decided to be one of the first “name brand” bands to completely disregard the music industry. See, the music industry (and iTunes) has held musicians hostage for years. That is, musicians relied on distribution as a means to communicate. With the internet as the main mode for users to get access to content, musicians like Radiohead have the ability to distribute their content directly without the use of a middle man.
Radiohead realizes that users would have downloaded their songs for free even if they didn’t offer this option. Radiohead has done something very profound–they’ve realized that by offering their content for free, they are building a relationship. They are telling their current fans and prospective fans, that their relationship is worth more than $15 dollars. Guess which will pay off in the long run? How many more people will be exposed to their music as a result of tearing down these barriers?
Imagine what would happen if you charged people to read your content? Would you have as many readers or loyalists?