Our poll this week asks what you'd be prepared to pay for the download version of Radiohead's new album In Rainbows. In the comments to the original post, someone pointed to a Gizmodo report stating that Radiohead will sell In Rainbows via CD early next year, through one of the 'big four' record companies. The Gizmodo post wrote that Radiohead had "pulled an about-face that feels like a betrayal and a dirty cop-out", because many fans would've downloaded the album thinking it would only be available via Radiohead's website. A later update to the Gizmodo post said that Radiohead had "been planning on dropping the album in CD form in '08 the entire time." So it wasn't an about-face, although it also wasn't reported in many initial news reports - or noted on the Radiohead website itself.
Still, a lot of the initial media coverage implied that there wouldn't be a physical CD release, other than the box set that costs a whopping 40 pounds and will be available in December. There is no mention of a single CD version on the Radiohead website either. So it's fair to say that a lot of people (myself included) got the wrong message; and paid for the digital download assuming it was the only way to get the single album.
According to our poll US$5-9 is the most popular price range that people are willing to pay for the digital download version. That pricing will be virtually all profit to Radiohead, so the download version will make some money for the band. However the eventual single CD release will reach a much wider audience, so the physical CD will end up being the pot of gold at the end of In Rainbows. So much for the big revolution in record sales!
But to be fair to Radiohead, they didn't hide that fact it would be on CD in January - it's just that the media didn't report that properly. Probably also some of us Webheads are guilty of over-hyping the Internet download (did I just say that?!) and thinking it would immediate replace the CD. Getting the album a few months ahead of time and for a very low price is still a great deal.
There's still time to take part in our poll this week. Let us know what you think a digital download album, from an artist's website, is worth to you: