LONDON (AFP) — British rock group Radiohead have drawn a mixed reaction from fans and fellow musicians with an experiment letting listeners decide the price of their latest album, reports said Thursday.
Other artists are said to be studying the novel sales strategy -- labelled a publicity stunt by some -- of allowing fans to pay whatever they want for "In Rainbows," which which went on sale online on Wednesday.
The hit art-rockers, already authors of six albums, drew widespread publicity when they announced earlier this month that that fans could decide the price themselves, saying "It's up to you" on their website.
On Wednesday about a third of fans decided to pay absolutely nothing, according to The Times daily, citing a poll of 3,000 people who bought it from the website.
"I chose zero, but maybe if I had a chance to chip in 10 bucks, after I hear it if it's great, then I would," said one identified fan from Australia, shortly after downloading the album.
The average price chosen was four pounds -- half the typical album price on online music retailing leader I-Tunes of around eight pounds -- although 67 people paid more than 10 pounds, according to the poll.
But the band's managers were upbeat.
"We're prepared to take a risk and we might come out looking very foolish. But we believe if your music is great, then people will pay for it," Bryce Edge, one of the band's managers, told the BBC.
Another boss, Chris Hufford, added: "There are actually people who are going on websites and saying, 'I don't actually like Radiohead, but I'm going to give them some money because I think it's a brilliant idea'."
British singer-songwriter James Blunt warned that the Radiohead approach could be dangerous for artists.
"I don't think they should devalue it," he told The Times. "I've got to pay a band and a producer and a mixer. I don't know how I'd necessarily pay them if I sold my albums for 1p."
Alex Turner, the singer with Arctic Monkeys, said the experiment was "very interesting" but reserved judgment, the newspaper said.
The four-piece band formed in Oxford, central England, in the 1980s and reached global stardom with hit albums OK Computer and Kid A, featuring intense, atmospheric sounds and Yorke's high-pitched voice.
A more orthodoxly priced hard copy version of the new album, which includes CD and vinyl versions of the album plus photos and other material, can also be bought online for 40 pounds (57 euros, 81 dollars).
The album's release coincides with a new book out October 22 of published and unpublished artwork from Radiohead albums by Stanley Donwood, who also contributed to lead singer Thom Yorke's solo album "The Eraser."
"Dr Tchock", who is widely believed to be Yorke himself, also contributes, a spokesman for publishers Verso told AFP.
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