Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’, with even less hassle

October 12, 2007


So, Peter noticed something quite interesting. His attempts to download Radiohead’s In Rainbows failed – he logged in, paid, requested a download key, it never arrived – so he dropped them an email.

After a quick and entirely automated exchange, they gave him an email address to write to for a new authentication key:

Drop a blank email to that address and they’ll send you a download link – no honesty box, no email registration. Just the music.

What’s interesting is that they don’t do any checks on this email. They appear to have decided that your details, and the money they generate, are nice to haves – great if we get them, never mind if not. Publicity and the hard copy are worth far more than the digital download. Infinitely more, in fact, if we’re dividing by zero.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. Even more so than asking you to put a price on it, giving it no value whatsoever feels like a cop-out, an abdication. Do you put a value on your mp3s the way you put a value on your ‘real’ record collection? Would you put a value on a free ebook?

I don’t want to agonise over it. I don’t even like Radiohead. But I keep jumping from one side to the other in this free debate, and it’s not over yet.

Image above from John Hick’s Cover Art for In Rainbows. Without permission, so go thank him.

1 Comment

  1. I too found it odd they didnt actually use my email address for anything (yet.) I did get a standard order confirmation email from them, but I didnt need to check my email address to download the album – the link was provided at checkout.

    I am also really struggling with this concept. SInce I am in the content business myself, I cant imaging my company doing something like this – at least not today.

    However, I think experimentation is absolutely necessary, and if experiments like this prove successful perhaps this is the begining of a new way of both selling and defining value of content.

    Comment by Chris Webb — October 12, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

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