Music = Shareware?

Radiohead has caused a pretty big stir by announcing that their new album, In Rainbows, will be initially released as download-only, and they are allowing their customers to name-their-own-price for the album. (Further, the only physical version of the album available – the “discbox” – costs a very pricey 40 quid, essentially forcing the vast majority of fans to buy the album as a download.)

This business model sounds fairly radical to music consumers, but it is actually pretty familiar for gamers. Simply put, In Rainbows is shareware, meaning freely-distributed digital data with optional payment. Small-scale games (or larger ones, like Doom) have been distributed as shareware since the very beginnings of personal computing. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of Radiohead’s gamble. Personally, I would prefer digital music to move towards either a subscription service or a single, non-DRM download shop, but it’s nice to see a novel option been tried (or borrowed).

2 thoughts on “Music = Shareware?

  1. They make their biggest money on live performances anyway. Selling records hasn’t really been too profitable for artists lately. (Although Radiohead, now that they’re off a label, is rare in that they will own their own copyrights.)

  2. Yay! Go Radiohead! There should be no punishment for wanting to hear an artist’s music. But why don’t they let me pay AFTER I’ve heard what the music sounds like? How do I know what to pay for something that I know nothing about?

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