Radiohead Call Sales Claim BS as they Confirm Release Date

(antiMusic) There has been a big hubabaloo about a study of a "few hundred" or so Radiohead fans from ComScore which claims that most fans ripped off Radiohead when they released "In Rainbows" as a pay whatever you like download. Radiohead have dismissed the study and its findings as well as announced a release date for the physical CD.

"In Rainbows" will ring in the New Year across the world on December 31st when it hits stores via XL Recordings. But U.S. fans are still in the dark as there is no release officially set Stateside as yet. But what about that ComScore study? Reps from the band basically dismissed that form of market intelligence as stupidity. Now while a lot of outlets reported on the study as gospel we did hold off because when reading the fine print it was a rather narrow sample group of people that opted to be studied and our own experience has shown such numbers to be way off. ComScore did get some good press though but reps for the band have labeled their research "wholly inaccurate" and "in no way reflect definitive market intelligence," according to Filter. Ouch. Maybe we should recheck that with President Howard Dean? ComScore blogged a response defending their "research". Speaking of unreliable sources, an anonymous source claims that the band are wholly against their former label's plans to release a Boxset.

The unnamed source said on Boing Boing, "I think people need to know that the band isn't some greed machine. I can tell you with 100% certainty that EMI is putting out all those reissues without the band's participation, blessing, permission or involvement at all. They are doing it as retribution for the band's decision not to go with them in releasing the new album. Despite their contract being expired, EMI had been counting on the revenue from the forthcoming album. When the band put out the digital version of the album themselves, EMI threatened them with re-releasing their entire catalog on the same day the discbox of IN RAINBOWS was being sent out, Dec 10, unless the band gave EMI the standard physical release of the album. Of course the band/managers told EMI to piss off and were appalled that at such an important point in the band's career that their former partners would do this to them."

Back to ComScore. They defended their study by blogging this, "comScore reports are derived from a representative sample of 2 million Internet users, who opt in to our panel and allow us to observe their actual online behavior, including e-commerce transactions. Because the data are based on passively observed consumer behavior, as opposed to polls or survey responses, there is no potential for recall error. When we observe an e-commerce transaction in our panel, the value we observe represents the actual price paid by that consumer.

"As an affirmation of the validity and representivity of our panel, we regularly release quarterly U.S. e-commerce spending estimates, several weeks in advance of the U.S. Department of Commerce releasing its own figures, and during the past 7 years our figures have rarely deviated from the official Commerce numbers by more than a few percent."

The government is never wrong? Is this the same government that can't decide if we have 12 or 20 million people living in the country illegally. 8 million is not really a minor number disagreement. We can't speak directly to the validity of ComScore's sample but we've seen that firms that employ similar "opt-ins" and tracking software from the general public to be laughably inaccurate in regards to our own readership which we'd define as diehard music fans that are unlikely to "opt-in" to such things. For example one firm reported our totally monthly readership as less than what our own logs show on a daily basis. In fact, it worked out to about 3% of the actual number. So our hard data is far from their "sample". Do we believe them and their "science" instead of our own hard data?

ComScore then lays out their Radiohead study as follows, "For the Radiohead study, we observed the activity of nearly one thousand people who visited the "In Rainbows" site, a significant percentage of whom downloaded the album. We ultimately observed several hundred paid transactions, all of which ranged between $0-$20, representing a very robust sample for estimating the average price paid per transaction. It's true that any sample has natural variability, so these numbers are, in fact, estimates. However, when you have a relatively large sample falling within a narrow range of values (i.e. there's a small standard deviation), the margin of error in the estimate is minimized."

Now another survey of a larger sample group found that Radiohead fans paid an average of $8.00 for the download. Gigwise reported the week that the download was released "A poll of in excess of 3,000 people on a Record of the Day website has found that the average price a Radiohead fan paid for a copy of 'In Rainbows' was 4.

"Corroborated with our exclusive that the Oxford band shifted 1.2million copies of the album thanks to inside knowledge of a source close to the band it means that Radiohead could have potentially earned a massive 4.8million from the album already!"

Interestingly enough, according to reports ComScore claims that with all of the press Radiohead received from their "outside the box" release strategy that only 1.2 million people visited their site during the entire month of October. Now, we've seen first hand just how off these kind of traffic estimates can be. So who's sample or study group do you believe? Let's wait and see if the band lets the cat out of the bag as to what they really sold before jumping to conclusions based on what a very small percentage of the population did. Either that or again ask President Howard Dean or former President Ross Perot to release their numbers. What they weren't president? But the survey samples said they would win! Is that giant sucking sound the execs from these "consumer research" groups laughing all the way to the bank?

We'll leave you with these thoughts from the Wall Street Journal, "One unknown factor about ComScore's panel, and most online panels, is whether certain traits that propel people to join make them unrepresentative of all Internet users." Amen to that!

The Journal also had an interesting article back in July about this whole net tracking nonsense. Did you know that the Nielsen/NetRatings is made up of just 29,000 people from the U.S.? The company then takes the usage of those few and extrapolate it to the overall online population.

Read more about that here http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/a-timely-shift-in-online-ratings-142/

Read ComScore's blog with their explanation here http://www.comscore.com/blog/2007/11/comscore_radiohead_study.html

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