Something really irked me this morning. In a NY Times article, one of Radiohead’s managers said the following regarding people’s response to their Tip In Hat approach to pricing their latest record:
“The majority of the public are really decent human beings who are honest,” Mr. Hufford said.
Mr. Hufford, had it ever occurred to you that perhaps I didn’t want to pay for a mediocre bit rate MP3, but later would likely pay full price for a real CD once you release it? Would it also be okay for me to simply enter 0 for the price because you allow it and I was hoping for a different online experience based on the price the user entered than what you did, which was nothing? What’s funny about this endeavor is that Radiohead has consistently produced very uncommon online experiences yet in this case, they simply threw up an online form and left it as such.
Did I feel a tinge of guilt for entering zero? Sure. Did I do it knowing that I wouldn’t ever buy the “real thing” later? No. I was being honest with you by entering my real personal information, which I NEVER have to do in a physical store to buy a Radiohead cd. If your site was designed to realize that if a user entered 0 for the amount, they shouldn’t be asked for personal information since no actual monetary transaction will take place.
What’s also bizarre about this free to infinity situation is that Radiohead fans are not the types to voraciously pirate the band’s music. In fact, they’re probably as emotionally attached to the group as other legendary fan-based groups like Phish or the Grateful Dead. To me, this experiment is a huge waste of time and would have been better suited for university studies.
I’m sure this experiment is also annoying every mom and pop record store in the free world because they aren’t getting any love from their indie-type customers who love the band. And they certainly aren’t thrilled to learn that somewhere down the line, you’ll finally distribute the real CDs for them to sell. Way to kill the market’s appetite. By then, in-store sales will be weak and you’ve only further alienated the stores.