Colin Greenwood of Radiohead has written an interesting piece on the band’s decision to release In Rainbows digitally with a pay-what-you-want model back in 2007. Three years ago, this was revolutionary. Now, in 2010, countless bands release projects with this format and there are even sites dedicated to releasing music under this idea. The band has recently completed their next album and are currently deciding how they plan to release it to their fans. With this in mind, Greenwood says:
I am optimistic that if you make good work you can secure the patronage of your fans.
This reminded me of a thoughtful email I received recently from Asthmatic Kitty, the record label of Sufjan Stevens. Stevens has also recently completed a new album, though he will be selling his through more traditional distribution methods. He’ll be releasing his project on his site on October 12 digitally for $8 and on CD and LP for $12 and $20 respectively. Asthmatic Kitty sent an email to Sufjan’s fans stating they have reason to believe Amazon will be releasing the record at a significantly lower price like they did with Arcade Fire’s latest. Regarding Amazon’s release plans:
We have it on good authority that Amazon will be selling The Age of Adz for a very low price on release date, not unlike they did with Arcade Fire’s recent (and really terrific) The Suburbs. We’re not 100% sure Amazon will do this, but mostly sure.
We have mixed feelings about discounted pricing. Like we said, we love getting good music into the hands of good people, and when a price is low, more people buy. A low price will introduce a lot of people to Sufjan’s music and to this wonderful album. For that, we’re grateful.
But we also feel like the work that our artists produce is worth more than a cost of a latte. We value the skill, love, and time they’ve put into making their records. And we feel that our work too, in promotion and distribution, is also valuable and worthwhile.
I’d be interested in seeing a graph of some sort showing how much people payed for In Rainbows or what the average person paid for it. I stand by the idea that good worth deserves payment. I hope as an artist, my work is worth something to the viewer. I’m hoping I’m making good work that is securing the support of whatever fans I may have.
I like Radiohead and I like Sufjan Stevens and I want them to keep making music I can enjoy. Even when I pay for it.