Hi DiSsers. I'm sorry about the dilemma I'm about to bore you with, but I need to get it off my chest.
A friend of mine put an EP up in Bandcamp recently, and I've been thinking... I never know what I ought to pay when it comes to PWYW. In the past I've just done a quid per track, then a couple on top if I know/like the band, but that's a bit arbitrary (and maybe unfair. What if some of the tracks are 10 minutes long? What if they're all less than 2 minutes? Does that even matter?). I'm aware that I'm massively over-thinking it, but in my confusion I've tried to come up with a method to calculate the 'right' amount to pay, and would like some feedback/criticism if anyone's bothered.
I've found it very strange trying to affix a price to a given music release, and with PWYW it's of course entirely subjective, but I've tried to narrow it down to some key factors and work from there: Number of Tracks (x), Length of Release (y), and Quality (like, how much you like the song) (z).
I've made a lot of assumptions that I'm sure people will disagree with, but I started with No. of Tracks as the primary factor, with Length of Release in minutes and Quality (on a scale of 0-10) as modifiers. (Using No. of Tracks as a starting point to judge the worth of a release seemed the most obvious starting point to me, but maybe I'm too used to the iTunes model).
So my logic is that, if your average track, of average quality (5/10) and average length (apparently 4 minutes), is worth a certain amount (let's say 75p for now), then a better quality track of same length would be worth more, a shorter song of same quality worth less, and so on. So, with an aim for track length to balance out the number of tracks (to be fairer to releases with less but longer songs, i.e. Sunbather) and for quality to be a big factor of worth, I'm currently working with:
This works out okay. Better EPs from last year are working out around the £5 mark depending on length, which seems right, but some of my favourite albums of all time are reaching close to £20, which seems a lot (but then again, perhaps all time favourites deserve it). Decent-ish albums (let's say AM, which I'd say is a 7) work out around £12.
So I guess my question to y'all is, where do you think I've gone wrong? What assumptions that I've made are wildly out? Maybe .75p is way too much for an average track, or a perfect track of 10 shouldn't be worth double an average track 5 (or maybe it should be worth more). Or maybe the length of a release is more important than how many tracks it's been broken down into. It'd be pretty easy to take that formula and alter it as you wish based on your opinions (changing (0.5+((y/x)/8) to ((y/x)/4) will give release length more weight than number of tracks, for example), but regardless it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on this, as I haven't really made my mind up on all these things yet.
On a similar note, if it isn't with stupid formulas, how do you guys decide what to pay for PWYW releases?