Radiohead sparked a firestorm by allowing fans to name their own pricetag on the album, In Rainbows.
But recent figures from media tracking firm BigChampagne have dampened the enthusiasm a bit. The band sold an estimated 1.3 million downloads on the effort, a figure that continues to rise. But sleuthing Fortune reporter Andy Greenberg asked BigChampagne to track the album, and found file-swapping volumes of roughly 500,000 – all at a price of zero.
That is a curious development, especially given the availability of a legal and free alternative. According to BigChampagne chief executive Eric Garland, some users are simply creatures of habit. “It’s quite simply easier for folks to get the illegal version than the legal version,” Garland said. The executive also predicted that illegal downloads will eventually trump legally-acquired versions, especially given the pre-release ordering bulge.