Connecting With Your Audience – A Radiohead Update

It has been two weeks now since “In Rainbows” by Radiohead was released for online sale on Oct. 10th. Gigwise estimates that the band sold 1.2 million copies of the new album during this time, with the band keeping all the money from the sales. These sales are more than their previous release (which sold about 1 million copies in the US.) While the band is not releasing the average sale price (the buyer sets the price of the download, which could be nothing,) it is believed that the band is breaking even or doing better on the deal than when they had a record label behind them.

Of greater interest though, is how many illegal downloads have been made of a product that could be obtained legally for free. Forbes.com recently reported that “In Rainbows” was downloaded 240,000 times the first day via Bit Torrent. To date, 500,00 copies have been downloaded illegally. Which means that 1.7 million people now have Radiohead’s new music, and even though Radiohead missed out making money on the Bit Torrent downloads, I don’t think the band really cares. They understand that they will not change the behavior of those who download music illegally, and never would have made any money from them on their albums anyway. The real money today in music is in touring and merchandising. And the band just increased their audience by almost 50%.

Connecting with your audience, in whatever way you can, is now the new rule of the game. The airlines did it (ever wonder how much the guy next to you on the plane paid for his ticket?) Planes are full now because they sell the same product (seats) for different prices to different segments of customers. And airlines are now reporting strong profits.

And oh yes, did I forget to mention that the band recently announced that they would start a six month world tour in 2008? With a 50% increase in audience connection, they stand to make more than they ever have before.

So what’s this got to do with libraries? To stay relevant, connecting with your audience is the most important opportunity and hurdle a library will face. Without change, libraries will lose its customer base. If the airlines can fill planes, we can increase our user base. We have to. Airlines that fly planes only half full go out of business.

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~ by bassperr on October 25, 2007.

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