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Post-rock heavyweights Radiohead are the latest / weirdest critic of panel-based data, having responded to comScore’s claim that less than 40% of ‘In Rainbows’ downloaders paid anything for the album.

The group was roundly applauded when it decided to release its latest album directly via its website, with fans able to name their own price.

The savvy PR infantry at comScore swiftly noticed an opportunity to bag some exposure and subsequently released some data to the media. The findings? Just 38% of fans paid for the record, and the average amount paid was a mere £2.87.

But according to the band, these numbers are rotten...

In a statement issued by the band, they say:

“In response to purely speculative figures announced in the press regarding the number of downloads and the price paid for the album, the group’s representatives would like to remind people that, as the album could only be downloaded from the band’s website, it is impossible for outside organisations to have accurate figures on sales.”

Damn straight. Maybe accurate within comScore’s panel, but extrapolation is always a dangerous game in the data business.

Anything else to add, fellas?

“The figures quoted by the company comScore Inc are wholly inaccurate and in no way reflect definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project.”

Bang! I have previously criticised media buyers for placing rather too much faith in panel-based data, but I never thought Thom Yorke and pals would get in on the act. Maybe there’s a song in it somewhere…

Further Reading
Just 38% pay for Radiohead album - study

Chris Lake

Published 8 November, 2007 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Laurent Nicolas

Extrapolation is dangerous, indeed. But it may be not too bad for unique visitors or time spent, because there is no accurate comparison to do.
But as far as money is concerned, people are able to know exactely how much is spent.
When comScore launched this kind of extrapolation (in 2001 I think), they weighted there extrapolations (amazon sales) on public figures. Then they only published month-to-month variations, which ca be okay, even with a bad panel.
This whole panel-based method is getting a hard time, and site-level solutions seem more reliable, don't you think?

almost 9 years ago

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Rishi Rawat

On this issue (and every other) I completely agree with Radiohead. I know this because I paid $20 for in_rainbows download and most other Radiohead fans over paid as well. And none of us are on the ComScore panel.

almost 9 years ago

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Andrew Lipsman, comScore

Rishi, for every loyal fan who paid $20, there are many others who didn't. Check out the blog comments from WSJ's The Numbers Guy column and you'll see the comments of several fans who didn't feel the need to overpay http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/counting-radioheads-sales-219/

Our study ultimately showed a broad cross-section of In Rainbows downloaders with payments ranging from $0 to $20. For a more detailed explanation of how we arrived at our estimates, please visit the comScore blog http://www.comscore.com/blog

almost 9 years ago

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Aurelius Tjin

I think Radiohead was right all along. Let us give them the benefit of the doubt. :)

almost 9 years ago

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Rishi Rawat

Andrew:

I respect your opinion but all said an done your sample size covers 'average' consumers. The problem is that music is a highly non average commodity, don't you think?

Rishi

almost 9 years ago

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Jay

The true test of the success of Radiohead's 'In Rainbows' strategy is whether or not they ever release another album this way again.

almost 9 years ago

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Bowman

This post is very old but maybe someone will read this (hell, I found it two years after the fact). I paid $0.00 on the Radiohead site, despite being a huge fan and having bought every other album (some twice, for friends). I did this just to see if it would work, and it did. I was amazed. I bought the CD months later just to make up for it (and because MP3 still sucks).

almost 7 years ago

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