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How much would you pay for your favorite album?

Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows will be available October 10. In a not entirely surprising move, unconventional Radiohead decided to let fans decide what to pay for its new album. Partially in response to Radiohead’s announcement, Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington blogged about the Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free based on economic theory. I’m no Econ scholar (one per family is probably one too many) so I’ll leave that discussion there, but the argument is compelling.

A discussion I’ve had with friends that’s more interesting to me started with the question, how much would you pay for your favorite album? or if it’s a Radiohead album, your favourite album?

I was in college just as file-sharing utilities started to proliferate. Napster was probably the coolest thing I had ever seen. I downloaded and burned 200+ albums and thousands of singles. I no longer bought CDs, but I did attend many concerts and bought merchandise like t-shirts…how else would you know I went to the concert? When I got schtick for “stealing” I would say that I supported bands and music by paying to go to concerts and buying their merchandise, that money I would spend on a CD would go to the big, bad record company so it wasn’t a big deal. For reasons I am still unclear on, I completely changed my thinking shortly after graduating from college. I started feeling guilty for having so much free music so I threw away all my illegally burned CDs and I stopped supporting pirated music and software. Ironically some of the same people who called me a thief for having pirated music started jibing me for having a “holier than thou” attitude.

For me, it’s a personal choice. When I enjoy something as much as I enjoy music I don’t mind having to pay for that enjoyment. Now how much economic value do I get from a good album? How much should I pay for Radiohead’s new album? If it was on itunes for 9.99 USD or 12.99 USD I’d have pre-ordered it already. What about my favorite all-time favorite albums?

I have no idea. It’s hard to imagine life without those albums. Music is art informing life (informing art again, Glen Phillips might say). It’d be a shame for something so temporal as money to get in the way of art and life. Perhaps Radiohead got it right.

ahelms.com » Radiohead: In Rainbows said,

October 11, 2007 @ 10:05 am

[…] I wrote How much would you pay for your favorite album? I had not yet ordered In Rainbows.  I paid £5.  That night, however, I remembered that last year […]

Willy said,

October 11, 2007 @ 10:25 am

Music is an art form that presents itself to us nearly everyday. Thanks to the person who decided to put radios into cars, any road trip we take most likely includes a sampling of either your own music collection, or a taste of what the record companies would like you to hear. Because music is with us almost everyday, it has a way of attaching instelf to feelings and events in our lives. Whether the feelings are negative or positive, hearing the first few notes of a song can incite a memory immediately.

Since music has such a powerful effect on my feelings, it has led me to think about how valuable a cd would be to me. I have many cds that I truly enjoy listening to, but there are a select few that when I listen to them, they make me feel happy, sad, strong, weak or a variety of other unique feelings. These cds are truly enjoyable because the entire cd captures a single mood. The feelings that I have when listening to these cds has made me think about how much I would pay for a cd, if I knew ahead of time it would offer these feelings while I listened to it. The catalist for this thought actually came from bands that had excellent debut albums and less impressive follow up albums. A band that I think had this problem was Matchbox 20. I enjoy Yourself or Someone Like You so much, yet I have been disapointed by proceding releases. It led me to think about how much I would pay today for a Matchbox 20 cd that offers me the same powerful feelings as Yourself or Someone Like You.

We all have the cds that we would consider the best, or our favorites. I invite you to think about much value you place on these cds.

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