Comedian Hofstetter experiments with pay-what-you-want — and provides numbers

hofstetter dark side of the roomOne frustrating aspect of the Radiohead pay-what-you-want experiment is the lack of definitive numbers — yet. ComScore says this, Radiohead says that, the record industry says this, the artists say that.

The Radiohead experiment is now old news, but that doesn’t mean others will not attempt their own experiments. Following in the footsteps of Radiohead, Steve Hofstetter, an up and coming comedian with a strong Internet following among high school and college-age kids, has released his latest album “The Dark Side of the Room” on his Website. He’s believed to be the first comedian to take a pay-what-you-want approach.

Hofstetter’s last CD, “Cure For the Cable Guy”, reached No. 20 on the Billboard comedy charts, and he’s performed on VH1, Showtime, ESPN, and others, as well as his work being available at his Website and on YouTube. He’s extremely popular on MySpace and Facebook with hundreds of thousands of friends.

Hofstetter is no Radiohead, mind you, but it’s interesting to see all sorts of known, somewhat-known, and unknown artists experiment with the pay-what-you-want model.  What’s nice is that Hofstetter has provided real numbers:

  • steve hofstetterHe currently is averaging about $6 an album, including freeloaders. That’s more than triple what his royalty would be if this we released by a label.
  • The most common price paid is $9.95, what the album would cost on iTunes.
  • Unlike Radiohead, Hofstetter has his fans choose between various payment levels — 1 cent (I wish it were free!) to $4.95 (a bargain!) to $8.95 (save a buck) to $29.95 (big tipper!) and everything in between.
  • Only the $9.95 and up sales count towards charting. Even with that, Hofstetter says, he expects to reach between #10 and #15 on the comedy charts in the first week.
  • In the first two days of sales, Hofstetter says he has made more money than he did in the first two weeks of his last album.

Hofstetter tells his fans, “I have always been thankful for the way the Internet has allowed me to reach people, and for the support those people have given me. So pay what you want for my new album, all the way down to one penny. Figure out what it’s worth to you — and I hope it can be that quality product that you’re looking for.”

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

5 Responses to “Comedian Hofstetter experiments with pay-what-you-want — and provides numbers”

  1. josh says:

    [QUOTE] He currently is averaging about $6 an album, including freeloaders. That’s more than triple what his royalty would be if this we released by a label. [QUOTE]

    Wow…hopefully this type of billing/payment method will be used more in the future. Why should all these record labels profit insanely from the true talents in the industry?

  2. din says:

    nice to see the money actually going to the talent

  3. Bill Ray says:

    As an independent artist, I think this is absolutely great. He’s getting $6 per album? WOW!! Think of the poor record company exec, who will have to send his brood to college on his OWN STEAM. How sad….NOT

    Thanks for furthering the example of do-it-yourself. It inspires me to do the same.

  4. Will says:

    I think this is awsome, I see some records in HMV or cd stores that are priced at 19.95 and I think wow why wouldent I just go torrent it. But for some one like this I would deffenitly pay at least 6 bucks or the 9.95 because its not some money grubbing corperation, in some sense I almost feel its a personal transaction based on the fact that he is trusting you to decied what he is worth to you! Awsome

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