Would lower CD prices lead to fewer piracy problems?

In answering last week's question

Would lower CD prices lead to fewer piracy problems?
Yes, overnight
57% (133 votes)
Yes, a little
29% (67 votes)
Won't make a difference
14% (32 votes)
Will make it worse
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 232

Mike Molinaro's picture

Won't make a difference. If there's a buck to be made, somebody will make it. That is why I think this whole watermarking issue is bogus—somebody will come up with technology to defeat it, at least enough to pirate. And there will always be Joe Cheapo out there willing to buy anything as long as it's a buck less.

Martin Bruczkowski's picture

Most of this site's readers are from the US and agree that CDs are too expensive. Now think about the rest of this planet: in most countries a CD costs many times more in relation to an average salary than in the US. How would you like to spend US$100 on every CD? No wonder piracy is blooming all over the world.

Graeme Nattress's picture

What premium will they charge over the professional pirates?

KJ's picture

Most definitely! But that's only part of the story. If record companies could make more money on lower CD prices, they would have reduced them long time ago. As it is, the level of piracy in the business seems to be a bit low in fact, as the piracy part of the business does not seem to affect the prices in a substantial way. On the other hand, substantially lower prices would drive piracy out of the market. But again, the basic assumption behind this argument is that record companies are maximizing their profits, thus the gain of lowering prices to crowd out the pirates is not worth it. So to everyone who wants lower prices on their music, promote piracy!


People will be able to buy CDs rather than copy CDs.

M.  D.  Chubb's picture

Even if the prices were lower, there's always going to be that friend who wants to borrow your CD to make a copy. And, beyond that, I've been to record shows (which are infamous for the availability of bootlegs) and never saw a single bogus copy of a legitimate release. The only ones I did see were recordings of live performances which would otherwise have been uavailable. The bulk of the bootleg music industry doesn't represent money lost, just money they're not getting!

deletraz@bluewin.ch's picture

Yes, a little. But when you consider the amount left to the performers, I wonder if it's a really good idea. So yes, lowering the price is nice, if the major labels are ready to accordingly lower their profit margin, which I unfortunately doubt . . .

Washington Irving's picture

I already belong to two CD clubs. At $7.99 per CD (including shipping), how much lower do CD prices need to go to stop piracy?

Scot Forier's picture

I don't see that lowering the cost of music will stop the priacy. These people are interested only in FREE music. I do like the idea of lowering the cost of CDs, as I would purchase more of them.

Joseph's picture

What they are doing now is suicide; they are PUSHING customers away.

Federico Cribiore's picture

If the music industry watermarks, I will not buy the new format. From the responses to last weeks question, most Audiophiles who check Stereophile's website seem to agree. Now the question is whether the industry stands to lose more from alienating one of its main potential audiences, or from pirating. I am not sure I want to learn the answer to that question.

Abedan's picture

Even at $5 each retail there will be desperados willing to invest 50 cents for a disc and another buck for packaging and labor to make $3.50 profit.

Chuck Edmonds's picture

It might even drive the price of bootlegs down to where they are only marginally profitable.

Samir, Washington, DC's picture

Some economics: Piracy or smuggling occurs only when there are distortions in the market that prevent prices from being set at their equilibrium value. (A typical example is when the government prohibits some kind of products, or taxes them at a high rate.) Taxes can be high enough (certainly the case in Europe) to make piracy a very attractive practice since there is no big entry cost in the industry of digital duplication. If tax is a distortion, it is not the only one. Big labels keep prices high, they say, to remunerate the artists. Fair enough, but this is a dynamic game: As long as prices allow piracy to be a profitable activity, the more developed and big that activity becomes, eventually enjoying some economies of scale, reducing their own producing costs, and increasing the incentives to duplicate CDs.

MH's picture

I would buy a _lot_ more if they were lower-priced. They are a bit too expensive to be an "impulse" buy.

Charles Purvis Kelly, Jr.'s picture

It will then make it affordable for all people to get their own copy of a CD that they will desire to buy. CD-player prices are now at an all-time low, so anyone who wants a CD player now can get one. I think that it would reduce illegal copying. I really do.

Tom's picture

No question about it. It's just less of a hassle to buy it when the price is right.

Eric H's picture

I would personally try a lot more music than I do now. I hate spending 12-15$ and then dealing with returning it when it turns out to be bad. My friends do the same, so there is only a trickle of new music from them. Knowing what CDs really cost only depresses me more and I know the artist is not getting 5-7$ of mine. If songs were 25 cents a piece I would buy a lot of singles without dealing with the rest of a bad album. I also would not make mix CDs using my friends CDs that I do like a little.

Ted Vinieris's picture

If I buy x number of CDs per year at current prices, and if the current prices are reduced by half, I would then buy 2x CDs per year. Also, why do cassettes cost 2/3 the price of CDs? Yes, sound quality is inferior, but they cost more to produce than CDs. Eventually, CDs will come down to the price of the cassette, but only because the record companies will be able to sell us DVD-Audio at an inflated price. But it may be too late, because I'm rediscovering vinyl!

David L.  Wyatt, Jr.'s picture

In America, piracy would all but disappear. But I'm not sure it would in the overseas markets, where costs and prices are very low. After all, the artist needs to make money and the company needs a profit. We need them to produce and support more quality artists rather than depending on a few blockbusters.

bane's picture


Rick Fauska, Wisconsin's picture

In a recent issue of PC Magazine a similar question was posed. Their findings concluded that people who pirate software for personal use have no intent on paying for that SW, regardless of the price. Given that scenario, they concluded that piracy has little effect on SW manufacturers' profits because these people are not going to purchase SW, regardless of the price. I belive the same applies to music CDs/DVDs. People making illegal copies for personal use have no intent to buy the CD, regardless of the price. There is no lost sale because there is never an intent to buy the CD legitimately anyway. The SW industry sees this, but somehow the music business doesn't. All this does is drive up the prices for those of use who do buy CDs legitimately. The pirates don't lose, but you and I do.

John Jones's picture

I would buy more CD's if the retail price dropped to $11 or $12. Most CD's are simply not worth $20 ($17.99 + CA tax).

Geno's picture

Some of the worst offenders are the audiophile labels. $30 for a CD . . . give me a break!

Tony Esporma's picture

This doesn't take a brain surgeon or a software developer! Think Borland vs. Microsoft, DVD vs. laserdisc—the cheaper the cost per unit, the higher the volume, which means less of an incentive to buy bootlegs and equal or greater profit for the content producer. Software developers found this a long time ago, witness Borland and Linux. Why can't the suits running Burbank figure this out?

Tal Algom's picture

Lowering the prices will put the "Pirates" into thinking that this way they can`t make a profit out of copying disks that can be accesible at fairly reduced prices, maybe the bussiness will grow - Who knows?.

Anonymous's picture

Ultimate demand with what the legit and non-legit markets will provide at their ideal "right price" is the rule. Think of the heavily marketed full price latest title which you see in a few months in the big discount bin. Change the demand factor by simply waiting a bit, and notice the price does drop.

L.  Solomon's picture

Won't make much difference. Most of the illegal copying goes on outside of the US. But, you know what, the record companies deserve this. I'm old enough to remember $8 for an LP. By now, they should have more than recovered the price of changing to CDs. They raised prices to cover the cost of that new technology. But, like taxes, once the cost to us goes up, it never comes down. Very hard to have sympathy for companies that rip off the consumers!

Cem Kaan Kosali's picture

why not?we can try

Luis E.  Solis's picture

The lesser the price gap between a pirated and an original will make it less attractive.