Just saw a nice article here about the release of the new album of Radiohead. Why am I writing about that? Well, because Radiohead has decided to dismiss of conventional distribution via the large record labels and instead let’s the fans download the music themselves. Not only that, but they also let the fan decide what he is willing to pay for the music!
An amazing example of a band which tries to treat its fans as fans and not as thieves. The record industry won’t like it a bit that a well known band is taking this major disruptive step.
What interests me is if this experiment will turn out to be a success or not. I think it is a bold step, but I also think that it will pay off. Sure, there will always be people downloading it without paying, but they do that now too (illegally). I think that the true fans will pay for the value and the trust they receive. And I also believe that downloading something for free isn’t nearly as much fun or provides you a feeling of belonging than getting the freedom to chose. Radiohead provides its fans with the trust but also the responsibility how to act. And psychologically that will be a very strong relationship builder!
I can’t wait to see what the response from the industry and other super bands will be. Have we just witnessed the first true disruptive step into remodeling this old-fashioned, walled garden industry? What do you think?
I’m off to ordering my copy right here
I also wonder what would happen if such a step could be taken in social networks? How about breaking the walled gardens there? Let the user decide which aspects of Facebook, MySpace, Friendster or any other service he wants to use, and let him link it up with any other network. Taking down such walls and put the responsibility in the hands of the user. The industry would have to make a move away from a destination based revenue model to a user centric revenue model. This would clearly be a revolution as all social networks are essentially funded by the traffic to their destination. And even though “open” networks such as Facebook provide all sorts of 3rd party development APIs, they still want you ON that network (that is what generates the cash), instead of the network coming to you when you need or want it to.
There are probably already some user centric service concepts that do not depend on a destination (web portal). Do you have any examples in the market?