"The first album subjected to Asthmatic Kitty’s unique experiment is Ropechain by Grampall Jookabox, which will sell for a meager $5.40 during its first 54 hours of sale. The label has determined this figure by consulting Pitchfork’s review of Ropechain, which gave the album a score of 5.4, and adjusting the cost accordingly."
Like a said, it's a cute gimmick and bound to get press, like this. But what does it mean that AK is hoisting their fortunes (or lack thereof) on one source? Do the PF reviewers and their editors now become self-conscious about giving out good or bad scores and then have to be responsible for the pricing? If an album gets the dreaded 0.0 score, does AK have to give it away for free? Surely not if it's a Sufjan Stevens album, right? And as the Swarm article points out, do we hope that our latest artists on the label get panned so we can pay less?
My editor doesn't like to hear this but this kind of stunt also helps to cement the reputation of PF too of course (wonder how much they paid off AK to do this...)
Also, this is the kind of model that the labels have been trying to push Apple into accepting- if there's a hot new release out there, people are willing to and should pay more for it. If something ain't as hot (say, an oldie), then they can offer it for less. Betcha that they'll be interested to see what happens here. They're also probably wondering "why didn't we think of that first?"
But going back to the original stunt, a 5.4 ain't a good grade so why would people be excited to buy it, even if it is only five bucks?