Friday, October 05, 2007

Why I Paid $80 for Something That Could Have Been Free.

I recently mentioned that Radiohead decided to give away their new album, "In Rainbows", digitally, for free. Alternatively, you could pay 40 pounds, or about $80, for the boxed set which includes the physical CDs, plus vinyl versions, plus a booklet with the lyrics and artwork, etc.

So of course, I bought the boxed set. Why? Could I have obtained "the same thing" for free? But most people's standards, yes. By mine, no. For me, the musical experience isn't just about the audio manifestation of the artist's vision (although it is obviously by far the most important), but also the visual - what artwork is included with the album? What does it mean and why was it chosen for this music? When I open an album for the first time, I enjoy the fresh, plastic smell of newness. I like the presence of the physical object in my hands.

Yes, despite the fact that I often use my iPod, I still have yet to purchase a single album on iTunes. I just can't wrap my mind around it yet. One day I'll get there. But with Radiohead, it's not going to happen.


Of course, the "Free vs. $80" question brought up some other interesting questions, such as how much I'd pay for the digital album if there were no boxed-set option. However, a slightly more interesting question a friend proposed to me is this: let's say the cost of "In Rainbows" was $X: what's the most I'd be willing to pay for the album, assuming the possibility of piracy is non-existent? In other words, for this little game you have to assume the only way you're going to hear the music, period, is if you purchase the album for yourself. For your purposes, you can assume I'm talking about your favorite artist, so it's given that you'll enjoy the music with almost absolute certainty.

I think that I'd be willing to pay somewhere around $1000 for a Radiohead album if there were no alternatives. What would you pay for your favorite band?


Blogger Adam said...

I purchase my digital music legally from Amazon for $8.99 an album....Seems fair to me.

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