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Freeloaders Outnumber Paying Downloaders of Radiohead's 'In Rainbows'

The release of Radiohead's In Rainbows album on a pay-as-you-wish basis has challenged the music industry's traditional distribution and sales model by allowing consumers to set the value of artists they revere.

A comScore study looks at downloads and online sales of In Rainbows, writes MarketingCharts.

In the first 29 days of October, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the In Rainbows site, with a significant percentage of visitors downloading the album, according to comScore.

Among the findings of comScore's study:

  • 38 percent of global In Rainbows downloaders made a payment, with 62 percent choosing to pay nothing.
  • The proportion of those downloading for free in the US (60 percent) is only marginally lower than in the rest of the world (64 percent):

comscore-radiohead-album-download-freeloaders-vs-paid.jpg

  • While freeloaders appear to be as prevalent in the States as elsewhere, US paying customers were willing to pay far more ($8.05 per download) than international counterparts ($4.64), possibly because US consumers generally have more disposable income* but also because free file-sharing is more prevalent elsewhere:

comscore-radiohead-album-download-average-prices-paid.jpg

  • Of those willing to pay, the largest percentage (17 percent) paid less than $4.
  • A significant percentage (12 percent) were willing to pay between $8 and $12, approximately the cost to download an album via iTunes. Those consumers accounted for more than half (52 percent) of all sales in dollars:

comscore-radiohead-album-download-price-paid-distribution.jpg

Consumers visiting the site could also opt to purchase the Discbox, which includes a vinyl album, bonus CD, and assortment of other trinkets, at the site for a set price of approximately $80.

(For a discussion of whether the model adopted by Radiohead is likely to succeed, despite the prevalence of freeloaders, see the post at the comScore blog.)

* The slightly higher rate of purchase by US consumers may also be attributed to the difference between the dollar and the pound. Paying downloaders were invited to set a price for the album by the pound, a figure that was converted to the buyer's denomination after purchase.

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