I know this isn’t breaking news or anything, but Radiohead recently announced they will release their new album with, as Joseph Jaffe puts it, the honor system built in. Essentially, it’s a download that they say you should, “Pay what you think it’s worth.”
I think that from a social media and new marketing standpoint, this is a great idea…with a hitch. I think that in industries like music, offering “free samples” to get people interested in the music is a great way to get new fans. It won’t hurt to expose people to their music. Some of those people may have never purchased, or would never have purchased a Radiohead album. Maybe this will get them interested enough to purchase the back catalog.
My initial reaction to this idea was, “Hey, that’s cool. They’re grasping onto social media and new marketing. Great!” Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think this is a great idea and will make for an interesting case study. I wonder what will happen to the value of the Radiohead brand, though.
I don’t think this will have the effect that it would have for a consultant, business, etc. but, could this idea hurt them? C.C. Chapman had an episode of Managing the Gray in which he discussed the possibility that new media marketers are selling themselves short. Basically wondering if offering discounted rates hurts the perceived value and effectiveness of new marketing/social media. It was a great cast (as they all are) and you should really go check it out.
It’s been said numerous times that offering deep discounts/free services can hurt a company because it lowers the perception of the value of the product or service. Does Radiohead run this risk by letting people “pay what they want?” By saying that the audience can decide what they think the value is, do they run the risk of people not thinking it’s worth as much as they’d like?
I don’t think the situation will play out this way. For a couple reasons:
1) Radiohead is an established brand with a large following and is really giving something back to the people who have supported them for years. I don’t think this would work as well for a band that is still trying to “make it.”
2) From all accounts (I’ve not really listened to them much), Radiohead has good music (great content…) worth listening to that will stand on its own whether the listener paid $2 or $20.
Ultimately, I think this will be a good thing for Radiohead, but I would be interested to see the sales data illustrating the “average price paid” for the album.