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jazzfan
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CD Prices: Out of Control

Here's a novel idea: the main reason CD sales are down and the music industry is tanking has nothing to do with the illegal downloading or copying of CDs but rather with the fundamental law of capitalism, you know, that one about supply and demand.

In a nutshell, the prices of CDs are just too damn high!!! It's as simple as that and no amount of DRM is going to save their greedy little butts.

I went to the NYC Times Square Virgin Megastore today to pick up a copy of the new Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris CD and yes it was on sale but for $14.99. Now you can call me cheap or old or whatever but $14.99 used to be the list price of a new CD not the "on sale" price. Sorry Mark, and I love you Emmylou, but I'll just wait for my local library to get a copy and then have a listen (and maybe it'll burn it's way into my collection, nod, nod, wink, wink).

The music and movie industries are two examples of industries which respond to market forces in the exactly opposite way one learns in business 101. The music industry in the face of sagging CD sales just continues to keep on raising prices and the movie industry in the face of booming DVD sales is looking for ways to kill the home theater market. By that I mean the movie studio's insistence of outrageous copy protection schemes on hd-dvd and blu-ray discs, which may prove to be the fatal blow for these as yet unproven formats.

Watching the music industry self destruct over these past few years has lead me to reaccess some long held beliefs I've had regarding the collapse of another great American industry.

At one time I believed that the once mighty railroads were systematically destroyed by the gas, tire and automobile industries but now I am beginning to see things in another light. Now I can see how the high and mighty railroads, when faced with the challenge of the then upstart and small time trucking companies responsed in much the same as the music industry has responded to the challenge of mp3s and downloading, they may have just stuck their heads up their own backsides saying "We're the mighty railroads, you can't hurt us!" When they should have been looking for ways to work with the trucking companies instead of resisting them and thereby bringing about their own downfall that much sooner.

I also wonder if the SUV has done a similar thing for the American automobile industry. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s they should have been working on hybrid and other alternative energy technologies but the time was wasted in hot pursuit of the fast buck via the giant SUV. Could come back to haunt them.

Anyway, I'm getting a bit off topic here. CD prices are too high. Period.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

I think the real interesting thing about the music industry is that people are willing to pay more than the price of a redbook CD for mp3 downloads @ 99 cents each from Apple. I know you can pick and choose your songs, but still it is about convenience, buying only the songs you want, quality be damned. This is a clear reality of over a million downloads over "hard" ownership.

This flies in the face of all we believe, but that is the economic reality of where the music industry is going. It would take more evidence for me to believe if all cds were $9.99 or less that there would be a spike in sales. I would love to know the cd sales trend at Amazon. We know the retail record stores are taking it on the chin.

I actually think the new trend of major artists is going to be downloads 2 to 1 over actual sales. It might even be worse (3 to 1) than I think it is. With the marketing push to use your cell phone to download music it may even be worse. Most young people today will have spent more in one month of cell phone useage than on a CD player, and more in a year than they would ever think to spend on a stereo system.

I wonder how many "work" computers are loaded with IPod music for downloading into the employee's mp3 player?

FrankM
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

A brick/mortar Tower Records wanted 22.98 for Doug MacLeod's "Come To Find" and I had to wait for them to order it for me!

I laughed in the kid's face. I know I shouldnt have

MUDSHARK
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

If I recall correctly, Lps went for 7.99 to 8.99 at the time cds started to take off around 86 or 87. Allowing for inflation that would be 12-13.50 in today's dollars. Thus, the price appears to be within 20 percent of lp inflation adjusted prices. Given the reduced sales, it does not appear to be greatly out of line.

For myself, the cd cost does not even enter into it.I find that 6-8 albums a year is all I can find that appeals to me. Now, I have never downloaded as the quality of mp-3 just leaves too much to be desired. It will also be a cold day in hell when I have music on my work computer (or anything else that is non-essential).

It would take a well researched marketing survey of 15-25 year olds (the primary music listeners) to either prove or disprove your assertion. The record companies would be well advised to do so in order to determine the optimum price point.

BGLeduc
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

I use yourmusic.com for the majority of my CD purchases.

The beauty is their prices are $5.99 shipped for any single CD. No committment, quit whenever you want.

They don't have every title in the world, but they do have quite a deep catalog. and they even have a smattering of SACD's at the same price. Once you get used to paying that amount, it really gives one pause to pay more.

I recently started getting into serious Jazz. Yourmusic has allowed me to build a nice collection of classic stuff for a very reasonable cost.

I just can't wrap my brain around the prices they charge at places like Tower or Borders. I would have to want a title really, really bad to throw down $18.99 for a single disc (thats the current price for many catalog jazz titles at my local Borders).

Brian

JoeE SP9
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

There is a used CD store right of the Univ. of PA campus. College kids buy lots of CD's only to get rid of them very soon. I take advantage of that. I usually pay from $5 to $7 for a CD. This means I can buy three instead of one. For that kind of money I can afford to be adventurous with my purchases.

RGibran
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control


Quote:
I went to the NYC Times Square Virgin Megastore today to pick up a copy of the new Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris CD and yes it was on sale but for $14.99. Now you can call me cheap or old or whatever but $14.99 used to be the list price of a new CD not the "on sale" price. Sorry Mark, and I love you Emmylou, but I'll just wait for my local library to get a copy and then have a listen (and maybe it'll burn it's way into my collection, nod, nod, wink, wink).

Jazzfan...your cheap and old!

Yes, CD prices are too high, and they promised years ago they would fall dramatically, but...isn't your last sentence/statement exactly what is hurting the artists, manufactures, distributors, and retailers? Aren't you and others (myself included) exactly the reason we are facing DRM issues?

RG

ohfourohnine
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

My first reaction, Jazzfan, is to see this as another of your posts designed to "stir the pot". Forgive me if you're serious about the CD price level, but the notion that you'd rip a library copy of a CD is, a bit out of character.

I submit, as an admitted cheapskate in some senses, that it is the content of most new CD releases that is killing the big labels in the music industry rather than the price. Jim's point about the comparative cost of the billion plus iTunes downloads is worth your consideration.

My guess is that you've happily paid more for vinyl reissues, SACD's, and even CD's when the music they offered was something you really wanted. I'm sure you're also aware of sources like Mapleshade, where, if you like what is in the catalog, the price is about $10. Do you think the Stereophile recordings are overpriced? When you buy a recording from a band's independent website and pay $16-$18 for it, do you think you're being cheated? I doubt it.

While it is great fun to cross swords with you on a controversial issue, I just can't buy your shot at this one.

jazzfan
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

Clay,

I respect your input and opinion on this matter and many other matters but I must stand firm on this issue. I do copy plenty of CDs from my local library but before everyone gets too upset I also need to add that I also still buy plenty of CDs and LPs, when I think the price is fair or, as you so astutely pointed out, the music (or content) is worth paying for. For example, I just bought a 10 CD boxed set of Cecil Taylor's Feel Trio Live in London via the internet from a British CD store from over $200 and I didn't bat an eyelash. Why? Because the Feel Trio is an amazing group and this set is a limited edition release which is very hard to find. I'm quite happy.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris are a whole different story. The list price of this CD is $18.99, which is outrageous. This is not a limited edition CD by some avant-garde jazz artist who at best sells 10,000 units, this is a big time release by two proven music industry veterns that's going to sell a quite a lot more than 10,000 units. I would bet that it shipped at least double that amount before even going on sale.

And now for the rest of the story. On Friday I walked over to the Virgin Megastore to pick up a copy and the CD was on sale for $14.99 but on the Virgin website (which is the same as the Amazon website) it's on sale for $10.98 (here's the link, see for yourself All The Roadrunning) which if you order over $25 worth of items is also shipping and tax free. So tell me, do they want to kill the brick and mortar stores, or is it just me?

The amount of money the major record labels are willing to throw away in pursuit of the next "big thing" is obscene. All while proven talent is completely ignored. That's what keeps the price of CD's so high, not my copying a few CDs from the library. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that there are twice as many promotional copies of JLo's CD in circulation as there are copies that people actually paid for. And she isn't the only musical "act" that is true of. The music business needs a wake up call and if it comes in the from of illegal copying, well, them's the breaks.

ohfourohnine
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

So, Jazzfan, as in the past, you and I agree on many things. But on the issue of ripping library CD's we remain opposed. More significant than that it is illegal and a bit shameful, is that it is pointless. If I thought for one moment that illegal copying would, as you suggest, send a wakeup call to the big labels and would force them to invest in the proven talent that is out there I'd join you. Hell, I'd make a career out of it and encourage everyone I know to do the same - even lend them the computers. They're like our friend the DUP. No one is going to change them.

Incidentally, what do you need with a Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris recording anyway? You probably won't live long enough to enjoy all the good stuff you already have.

Happy listening,

ampnut
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control


Quote:

the main reason CD sales are down and the music industry is tanking has nothing to do with the illegal downloading or copying of CDs but rather with the fundamental law of capitalism, you know, that one about supply and demand.

In a nutshell, the prices of CDs are just too damn high!!! It's as simple as that and no amount of DRM is going to save their greedy little butts.

So true..... so true.

But CD buyers in the USA have amongst the lowest prices to pay .... Just see what your cousins accross the pond are forced to cough up...

I was in Beijing recently, and Official prices ( Not Pirated stuff ) of Western Rock & Classical CDs are typically US $ 2.25 per CD !

jazzfan
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control


Quote:
I was in Beijing recently, and Official prices ( Not Pirated stuff ) of Western Rock & Classical CDs are typically US $ 2.25 per CD !

Isn't there a typo in there somewhere? I think $2.25 per CD is a really good price. In fact, at those prices I'm surprised I haven't seen more Europeons selling new CDs to us overcharged Americans via eBay.

ampnut
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

No Typo : One CD at United States Dollars Two and Twenty Five Cents Only. Actually its Rmb 20 per CD and its US $ 1 = 8 Rmb

That was in Beijing - CHINA

Guess its upto the Chinese, Not Europeans to make a buck on ebay selling Back, what the west is selling them.... but I am sure that the US music companies will Quickly point out that those CDs and CD prices are for the Chinese market ( only ).

After all that is what they have put in place by region encoding DVDs, so that they can charge Much more in other markets like Europe.

jazzfan
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control


Quote:
The music and movie industries are two examples of industries which respond to market forces in the exactly opposite way one learns in business 101. The music industry in the face of sagging CD sales just continues to keep on raising prices and the movie industry in the face of booming DVD sales is looking for ways to kill the home theater market. By that I mean the movie studio's insistence of outrageous copy protection schemes on hd-dvd and blu-ray discs, which may prove to be the fatal blow for these as yet unproven formats.

I just wanted to add two comments on these thoughts which came up in a conversation I had with a good friend this past weekend. The first one concerns my response to a question he asked me when I said that I was enjoying watching the music business self-destruct these past few years. My friend Dave asked if I had a solution for the problems facing the music business. Good question. I responded that no I didn't have a solution but then again I don't work in the music business and I'm not in any danger of lossing my livelyhood over this whole affair but if I did I sure as hell would have some ideas, what's their (the music business') excuse?

The second one concerns the movie industries rather odd response to booming DVD sales, you know, my claim that they want to destroy the home theater market. Well here's why I believe that to be true. The major difference between the way a movie studio makes money from DVD sales as opposed to movie theater ticket sales is in the loss of the control of the content. When you go see a movie you pay your money, watch the film and go home empty handed. When you buy a DVD you now own a version of the film, you own the content, you can control how and when you watch the fim, not hollywood. Hollywood can not make any more money from that film from you. Finished. It's a wrap. Hollywood does not want to turn into the music business where they have to keep introducing new formats to make the public keep on buying the same movies over and over.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: CD Prices: Out of Control

I am not sure that the movie industry would not want the movie theaters to go away? At the going rate for DVDs these days they are a steal, at least to me. The rediculous concession costs are what keeps me mostly out of movie houses, and if we do go it is without 25 cents worth of popcorn for $5 and $4 for a 99 cent bottle of soda.

What I find interesting is that I will listen to music cds repeadly more than I would ever watch a movie, yet the prices are surprisingly close. DVD has opened up a whole new relm of concert/audio/videos that can be great fun if recorded well, even if played back in 2-channel.

Now that artists can send their music direcly to Apple for possible inclusion in their download music delivery system, I can now see the future of the music labels. I would be careful to use the word "vanishing", but it may happen in my life time. As the want for hard disc ownership dwindles, the "bigs" will have to be careful and not press 50,000 "drink coasters". This lawsuit vs Sony concerning royalties due from downloads will get interesting.

The problem for artists is exposure creating demand for their art. With satellite radio and extra channels available from DTV, cable, and Dish Network, some very creative people will find a new way to get the word out for artists. Once buyers hear what they like a download is just seconds away, not 3 days from UPS. $3-$4 a gallon for gas may expedite this as well.

The issue for audiophiles is we should hope this takes longer as hi-rez downloads is not the norm for now. Most of us still like "hard copies". I know I do.

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