Web Wednesday: Seth Godin and In Rainbows

In Rainbows

A lot of talk around the Substance big table on Wednesday about a couple things on the web… a post by Seth Godin and the digital release of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album.

Seth Godin and the “Good Enough Website”

We respect Seth Godin a great deal, and enjoy his books and blog. But his post about web design really bothered us. Yes, he gives a disclaimer that “for most people, [a good enough website] is all you need.” But we’re not working with most people. We’re working with individuals who want to change the way people create conversations with their brand, and use interactivity as a way to strengthen this relationship.

I was hoping he was being sarcastic, as his Purple Cow theory is to “be remarkable, not average.” So it’s a good thing I waited until today (Thursday) to post this… Seth comes clean with his “How to Create a Great Website” post. It’s a top 10 list of things we were talking about around the big table. We liked #8: “If you hire a professional: hire a great one. The best one. Let her do her job. 10 mediocre website consultants working in perfect harmony can’t do the work of one rock star.” And #10 is also good: “Don’t settle.” Purveyors of Average and Mediocre, good luck.

Radiohead “In Rainbows”

The other topic of discussion was the new Radiohead album, “In Rainbows.” While Radiohead coming out with a new album is in itself something to get excited about, the way they released this album is unique in an industry driven by the status quo. Radiohead released the album themselves, and allowed people to pay as much, or as little as they wanted. You set the price. So you could get it for free, or you could pay $5, or you could pay $50. Shaun bought it first for £3 (about $7) and downloaded it. After listening to it, and liking it, I purchased it as well. I could have easily gotten the mp3s from Shaun for free, but I felt the value of paying for it was greater than getting it for free. Interestingly, across the music blogs I visit, many people talked about the Radiohead album, but hardly anyone had mp3s up for download, even though you could get the entire album for free if you wanted. Most music bloggers felt this would corrupt the spirit of the social experiment of letting people pay however much they wanted. I’m sure you could have found the mp3s on any number of sites for free, but most people were honoring Radiohead’s objective: let people determine the value of their music.

David forwarded me an article on Yahoo! about the release of the album, and I think the headline sums it up: Radiohead’s Experiment Divides Music Industry. And that’s exactly the point. Give people an alternative, a way to think about the industry in a new way. (And this applies to so much more than just the music industry.) It’s going to make many people in the industry scared and nervous. But some are also going to embrace the experiment and think of ways they can use it to strengthen their own brand. Which happens to be the same thing Seth is saying in his Great Websites post: “change the interaction,” and again, “don’t settle.” Rock on, Purveyors of Greatness.

p.s. “In Rainbows” is quite good, and worth every pound I paid plus a few pounds.

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