Can't say I find the reported condition of CD sales surprizing but I was a little surprized that a guy like you would lead us to a site on which the lead article is "Man Found Dead in Owl's Cage".
Guess the lesson is Keep buying vinyl and stay away from owls.
878's gone, 8 tracks gone, cassettes gone, LP gone Cd gone? BMG Music Services is having lotsa good sales on CD's lately, they finally are priced where they shoulda' been 10 years ago, well under $10 each even after shipping. www.bmgmusicservice.com BMG took over Sony columbia music service too. Just like Sirius and XM should merge instead of battle for teh same customers.
BMG Music Services is having lotsa good sales on CD's lately, they finally are priced where they shoulda' been 10 years ago, well under $10 each even after shipping.
I used to feel the same way about CD prices, to an extent I still do. For one thing according to economic theory it is rational for a consumer to want to pay as little as possible and for another I buy quite a lot of CDs so the unit costs soon add up. I suspect the number of CDs purchased per capita per year follows some kind of asymptotic distribution and I suspect I am not alone in this forum in being somewhere way over to the right! However I recently stumbled across a very interesting essay on CD costs on the Hyperion website (click on "Costs" under "ABOUT CDs") which very lucidly and persuasively lays out the other side of the argument. I would commend it to anyone who like me has griped about the cost of premium programme.
I am a big fan of Hyperion and have bought many of their discs, and it is true to say that (with the possible exception of the Angela Hewitt Bach series) most of these have been less popular works and therefore very low volume SKUs. So I would certainly not like to see Hyperion (or Harmonia Mundi, Telarc, MA and the remaining few who really care about sound quality) either go out of business or go horribly mainstream and stop trying to expand the repertoire. Consequently I for one certainly hope that this circle can be squared.
One observation I would make is that for me the traditional "bricks-and-mortar" retail channel ceased to add value to the music supply chain long ago. It seems I was not alone in changing my buying habits and the availability of classical programme (in particular) in the shops where I live is now, partly no doubt as a consequence, virtually zero. I buy all my Hyperion at approx $10/disc from Caiman (via Amazon) who deliver promptly (and cheaply - postage half way around the world from Florida costs about a half of what a Swedish e-tailer would charge to deliver domestically ) and stock, to all intents and purposes, the entire catalogue.
I can only speculate that the long-term answer, if there is one, must lie in the direction of electronic distribution, aka "the dark side". This is a matter of urgency for the major labels, but for the boutique outfits like Hyperion I would expect this to very soon be a matter of survival if it isn't already.
I had downloaded the FLAC version from the Philadelphia Orchesta Web Site and was decently impressed. But, the final quality will ultimately be the DAC employed to get the music out of the computer. The sound from my Behringer FCA 202 firewire device is good, but at $80 hardly high end. It does have balanced out, which is pretty amazing for the price (TRS not A3m/A3f). You can buy adaptors at any decent pro audio shop.
FLAC is still a compromise from SACD and some excellent CDs I have and the MP3 from the Milwaukee Symphony is easily beat by most of my vinyl. I consider my $5.99 investment to each orchestra a contribution to the fine arts if nothing else. I got music to boot. Ain't America great!!!!!
FLAC is still a compromise from SACD and some excellent CDs I have
Apologies if this seems like hair-splitting but FLAC is just a codec (i.e. compression mechanism), not an encoding scheme, and since it is 'lossless' and is neither involved in the encoding (ADC) or decoding (DAC) processes it is quite transparent to sound quality. FLAC can handle many encoding schemes including those used in CD and DVD-A, in fact up to 8 channels of 24/192 PCM audio (see the Wikipedia entry on FLAC for more).
If you rip one of your 'excellent' CDs using FLAC, replay it and compare the resulting bits with the original CD they will be the same. So while your point that your DAC will limit the sound quaility you experience is correct, ultimately the quality will be limited by the original recording and the digital encoding thereof.
In other words, if a given downloaded FLAC file doesn't sound good to your ears then the problem lies with the recording (enocding), and has nothing to do with FLAC per se.
[Edit] Rereading your post I realize I may have parsed it wrong and you may have been trying to make a different point. So apologies again if you already knew this, which I suspect you did.
I skimmed over the Hyperion Records link you posted and, while there are a couple of valid points, it does nothing to explain the sad state of CD sales. If anything it a rather self serving essay which applies to only a very small section (classical music) of the overall music market. The essay fails to explain many of the blatant ripoffs that the major record labels have been forcing on the CD buying public over the last 15 to 20 years.
For example the classic "super saver" discounted CDs offered by major record labels never seem to include CDs by artists who's back catalog still generates decent sales. Have you ever seem a Rolling Stones or Beatles CD as a "super saver"? Try to tell me that the record label hasn't recouped the costs of a Rolling Stones recording many, many times over.
What this means is that one can go into a big box retailer and find hundreds of DVD's of recent movies, with many of the titles containing lots extra material, all priced well below that of a 40 year recording on CD. Go figure.
And then there's the unfilled promise from the early days of CD that prices would come down once the format was established and economy of scale took over. Never happened.
Sure illegal downloading and copying have taken a major toll on the sales of CDs but the record companies' responses to this problem have done nothing but further alienate their customers. What do we get instead of a CD? Why highly compressed files of the same music with ridiculous DRM attached and priced way out of proportion to the actual cost of the product.
I still try to buy music legally but the prices are often way too high and the availability of illegal downloads way too easy for me to justify the added expense. I buy CDs and legal downloads directly from the web sites of many small, independent labels where the pricing is much more inline with the actual costs.
Take for example the Grateful Dead's online store where downloads are available in the FLAC format and priced lower than the physical CD and downloads of the cover art are also available. Or the many downloads of live shows, priced to sell, that are available on many different websites. I buy legal downloads from these sources since the prices are reasonable and they don't encumber the files with DRM. Other than these few exceptions, most of my music now comes from shadier sources.
Your points are well taken; I think we're talking about different things.
I found the Hyperion piece interesting in relation to DUP's comment about the price of CDs (and I guess I was thinking classical since that's what I buy most of), I agree that it does not go any way to explaining the decline in CD sales in general. Apart from anything else Hyperion is a boutique shop and I would expect their proportion of the world CD market to be below the noise-floor.
I also agree that the essay is self-serving (well what would one expect?), however it made me reflect on my own attitudes and even succeeded in changing them a bit. I share your views on the majors and the selectively cynical way they milk the back-catalogue.
I will continue to be a singularly rational consumer and pursue the best possible prices for all the programme I purchase. However my pain threshold for niche material and for labels producing discs offering outstanding sound quality and which are really well packaged will now be higher.
So now when I bag a Hyperion disc from Caiman for $10 I really feel good about it!