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Radiohead

Published on .

As the record industry stuggles to find a business model for the digital age, British art-rockers Radiohead turned heads in October with a radical new idea: let people pay what they want. The band released their latest studio record In Rainbows as a digital download and let fans pay whatever they pleased. The physical album still hit #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. when it finally made it to stores, while fan-priced downloads averaged $2 a shot. The jury is out on whether the idea would work for bands with less loyal followings—or whether it even really worked for Radiohead; two-thirds of downloaders opted to pay nothing—but the band certainly reaped the rewards of being first while providing marketers with an interesting thought experiment/case study. As guitarist Jonny Greenwood told Rolling Stone, "It's fun to make people stop for a few seconds and think about what music is worth, and that's just an interesting question to ask people."

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