It seemed like end times for the time-worn notion of consumers paying for content. People migrating toward any number of sources that distribute news, video content and music gratis and with varying degrees of legitimacy; old media facing a future where they give it all away with the hopes that revenue drain will be made up by ad dollars.

Then, Sept. 30, even the disruption was disrupted, if only for a news cycle.

It came in the form of an announcement on the website maintained by the British band Radiohead, which told the world it will allow individual consumers to determine how much they want to pay for a digital copy of its forthcoming album, available later this month. The pay-what-you-will strategy was immediately hailed as a as coup for consumer empowerment. It's also a wager on consumer altruism, the belief that fans will pay up despite essentially being able to download the album for free.

What's more, a quick survey by U.K. magazine New Music Express found that fans were willing to pay about $10 for "In Rainbows." If those surveyed represented reality, the strategy will result in a hugely profitable haul for the band given the next-to-nil cost of digital distribution.

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