In Freakonomics, we wrote about Paul Feldman, an economist turned bagel delivery man who began charging his customers based on the honor system. From the experiment, he found that, all in all, people were pretty honest.
Now the band Radiohead is borrowing a page from Feldman’s playbook, but on a much grander scale. One of the most popular bands in the world, Radiohead has decided to go it alone for the release of their seventh album. As Time.com reported:
[S]inger Thom Yorke told TIME, “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘F___ you’ to this decaying business model.”
So how much will it cost you to download their newest album?
Whatever you want to pay. Following other artists we’ve blogged about in the past, like Jane Siberry and Devin Brewer, the band has embarked on a radical social experiment, and is letting fans choose their own price. In the 2.5 years that we’ve been writing this blog, only one or two times have we gotten so much email about a specific topic — which happened to come hot on the heels of our quorum about the future of the music industry. I’m guessing the outcome of this new model is going to be great for Radiohead.
I’m sure the guys in the band have much better things to do than to read blogs, but on the off chance that they are Freakonomics fans, I want to put out a message to them: I’d love to help you analyze your data. I have a few ideas that might be really useful to you.
Also, if any readers have an in with Radiohead, please convey my message. I’ll even give you a Freakonomics T-shirt for making the introduction — it’s not exactly a Radiohead shirt, but it’s the best I’ve got.