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Do consumers pay voluntarily? The case of online music


  • Regner, Tobias
  • Barria, Javier A.


The paper analyses the payment behaviour of customers of the online music label Magnatune. Customers may pay what they want for albums, as long as the payment is within a given price range ($5-$18). Magnatune's comprehensive pre-purchase access facilitates music discovery and allows an informed buying decision setting it apart from conventional online music stores. On average customers pay $8.20, far more than the minimum of $5 and even higher than the recommended price of $8. We analyse the relationship between artists/labels and customers in online music. We consider social preferences, in particular concerns for reciprocity. The resulting sequential reciprocity equilibrium corresponds to the observed pattern of behaviour. We conclude that Magnatune's open contracts design can encourage people to make voluntary payments and may be a viable business option.

Suggested Citation

  • Regner, Tobias & Barria, Javier A., 2009. "Do consumers pay voluntarily? The case of online music," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 395-406, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:395-406

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
    2. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
    3. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-844, September.
    4. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    5. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
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    7. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    8. Ruffle, Bradley J., 1999. "Gift giving with emotions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 399-420, July.
    9. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
    10. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    11. Dufwenberg, Martin, 2002. "Marital investments, time consistency and emotions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 57-69, May.
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    More about this item


    Social preferences Reciprocity Music industry Experience goods Psychological game theory Emotions;

    JEL classification:

    • C24 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Truncated and Censored Models; Switching Regression Models; Threshold Regression Models
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media


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