Radiohead Downloaders Preferred Illegal P2P To Legal Free

Robert Andrews
Friday, August 1, 2008; 2:07 PM

image Some 2.3 million people skanked Radiohead's latest album from BitTorrent sources - during the two months it waslegallyavailable forfree. A research paper from P2P monitor Big Champagne and the UK's MCPS-PRS royalty collector said the "staggering" number " far exceeds what outsiders have reported as the estimated download total from the bands official website, regardless of whether those downloaders paid or not".

Why? Maybe so many people are already downloadingthe restof their albums from torrents, they simply couldn't be arsed to type in their browser. The bottom line is thatlegal freewas trumped byillegal free. The research, by MCPS-PRS chief economist Will Page and Big Champagne CEO Eric Garland, saiddiscoverabilitymay have been a factor, citing early teething troubles with Radiohead's website as one reason freeloaders stuck with P2P.

But that's wishful thinking.In Rainbowstorrent downloads peaked on the first day data was collected, October 27, at 400,000 - what Page and Garland call "a bloody big number".Howbig? More thandoublethe top torrent through March and May (Panic At The Disco'sPretty Odd) gotin a whole week(ie. 10 times Panic's daily average).

The report's "venue hypothesis" posits net users have simply become accustomed to using technologies like Gnutella, BitTorrent and trackers like Mininova. What's more, "an off-limits venue may be even more appealing" to the core youth market. Soillegalis now entrenched, it's habitual and the business faces an uphill struggle to change that.

Counterpoint - Nine Inch Nails' freeThe Slipalbum was downloaded more from than torrents. AndIn Rainbowsreached number one on both sides of the Atlantic on proper sales.

Radiohead refuse to answer the question everyone's asking - how much did they make from, and how much did people choose to pay? Artist managers at this year's Midem, citing inside knowledge, said the average was $5.72 (£2.90) but as much as $9.87 (£5.) The band rubbished comScore's ( NSDQ: SCOR) estimate downloaders paid an average $2.26 but Thom Yorke has said Radiohead "have done really well out of it."

MCPS-PRS' Page is super-insightful and will be speaking at our EconMusic conference at London's Natural History Museum on September 23.

(Photo Angela N, some rights reserved)


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