CD prices to drop
December 28, 2001 7:39 AM   Subscribe

CD prices to drop due to competition from the net? "(We) believe music software CD prices may soon permanently decline to $9.99 given weak sell-through of new artists and continued Internet piracy that appears unstoppable."

Is there an economic model for competition from piracy pushing prices down? This seems to contradict the rhetoric about the rest of us paying more because of pirates.
posted by NortonDC (53 comments total)
 
'Bout god damn time.
posted by Espoo2 at 7:43 AM on December 28, 2001


Translation: "You rabble can have the physical media for cheap now. We're moving on to push our super-secure $40-for-100-songs online distribution. And if you want that new Britney Spears song? Gotta subscribe. It's not going on her next album."
posted by darukaru at 7:44 AM on December 28, 2001


Of course, they're bringing the price down so they can justify the fact that you're going to have to pay *another* $9.99 (per month, most likely) for the privilege of buying it a *second* time so you can play it on your digital devices.

Once the non-spec, non-redbook, intentionally defective "CDs" start rolling off the presses by the millions, this is what the public will be expected to do. That is, unless you're willing to use a program that circumvents the
copy protection to exercise fair use, which makes you a criminal - thanks to the DMCA.

I was pleased to see the following paragraph in that article:

"Basically, if a CD sells for $13, a record company takes in about $8, of which it deducts artist, publishing royalties and manufacturing, promotional and marketing costs.

The artist generally makes between 50 cents and 75 cents per CD, while the record company clears between $3 and $4 per CD. The artist further has to pay back advances made by the record firm, which further cut the artists'
royalty, often dwindling to nothing, according to music industry insiders."

I mean, most of us here know this stuff already, but it's good to know that a few more members of the public may learn it, as well.

I'd love to see some big-name recording artists (especially the ones who are publically at odds with the recording industry) arrange a big nation-wide (hell, international) telethon. Expose the fact that the deck is stacked against a big-label artist, and while the labels get rich, the artists get screwed. Man, if something like this could happen in my lifetime, I'd die a happy man.
posted by tpoh.org at 7:55 AM on December 28, 2001


Am I the only one who remebers when the music companies were promising that CD prices would be much cheaper than tapes or albums since they were so cheap to produce?
posted by haqspan at 7:56 AM on December 28, 2001


Pirates used to say "we do this because prices are too high".
What will they say now ? "We do this because we can't afford the gas to drive to the mall" ?

Oh well. One down.
posted by XiBe at 7:56 AM on December 28, 2001


And remember all that crap that mp3.com artists were going through about the "netCD" program which effectively prohibited artists from ever completely removing their material from the service once it was uploaded ... now, the major labels are going to sell you digital files that will self-destruct as soon as you stop forking over the cash.
posted by tpoh.org at 8:02 AM on December 28, 2001


i remember, haqspan. we were suckered. complaints were quickly dropped, as consumers took what they were given.

back then, we would never picture today's price reductions as market opportunity of this nature.

only in america.
posted by particle at 8:03 AM on December 28, 2001


And the sad thing is that you know who is ultimately going to take the hit from the price reduction - and it ain't the fat cats pushing the paperweight contracts.
posted by tpoh.org at 8:06 AM on December 28, 2001


Obviously a news article interview with an agenda. I'm too tired to hunt for the cribs notes... er, I mean, press release for this baby.

It seems that there's been a fundamental misgiving with the way the big record labels spend their money--in promoting artists they think will be very popular--not trying to get underexposed ones out the door like labels are supposed to. I'm certain that if they qualified spending money after exposure where it is beneficial to do so, they'd have a lot less problems from people trying to rally up support for direct-to-artist-donation-type projects.

CDs fifteen years ago cost about 29 cents to manufacture... I'm certain with the near-unformity encouraging economies of scale, that the price has decreased. Where is the savings in decision-making from the middle-*men*?
posted by Hilarion at 8:14 AM on December 28, 2001


Not exactly on topic, but... yeah, digital media and the internet will allow the artist to bypass the traditional anal rape by record company distribution, but the record companies have trained people pretty well to expect commoditized, discrete products (a record, a tape, a CD). Are the record companies doing any "educational" ad campaigns on how ephemeral digitally distributed music is? I mean, we're basically talking about divorcing the music from the media it comes on. Some people (like me, I admit it) still like that feeling of permanence and collectibility that you get from an album cover or liner notes or whatever. I'm one of those freaks that actually downloads MP3s and listens to them, and then buys the CD if I like the music. I hope artists remember that when they're breaking their chains.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:29 AM on December 28, 2001


boo hoo. I don't feel sorry for these Record Companies. If the Artist actually made over 50 % of the cost of the CD, I would be more apt to buy CDs. Unfortunately, there are only a few artists out there whose music I would consider buying. Most CD's only have one or two good songs, and the rest is crap. I'm not willing to pay $9.99 for one song that I like. In addition, I don't want to fiddle with changing CD's for one song. That's why I have a portable MP3 player....
posted by LinemanBear at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2001


$9.99 is how much a CD should cost. $18.00 is unreasonable for a little over an hour (and many times under an hour) of entertainment. True that many CDs are played over and over again, but the fact remains is that it is an overpriced item that is finally falling in line with what it should cost.

The more logical statement from the music industry should be: "They've discovered that they are being gouged, and they found a way around us. I guess we have to charge the actual value of our product now."
posted by benjh at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2001


Tpoh.org: The fat cat's at the labels will more than likely take the hit. It's already set up in contract that the Artists get a certain flat fee per unit sold, or a percentage.

The problem is not with the majors, they already have exclusive contracts with retailers and distributors, it is the independants that are going to take a hit.

I work for an independant label, Chesky Records here in NY. If CD prices were to drop, we would have to follow suit. That means less money for promotions and marketing, less radio play, and less exposure for our A&R. CD prices are what they are because simply, that is the minimum they can be to make a profit. Overhead, distributor costs, manufacturing, recording fees, and all the rest are a necessary evil, and a costly one.

If CD's were sold to retailers at less that $9.99, independant labels will fold. We can't compete.
posted by remlapm at 8:51 AM on December 28, 2001


Meanwhile, Tower records nearly went bankrupt a month ago, until they lined up emergency financing which bought them new life only until April of '02.

CDNow.com is not long for this world either.
posted by BentPenguin at 8:51 AM on December 28, 2001


spin, little monkeys, spin.

"now that y'all have uncovered, er, figured out, er, got the press release about our dirty little scam, that is, I say, that is, our business model, wuall, we're just gonna have to blame the whole fandango on them pie-rats, I mean, cover our tracks, I mean, ....aw, shoot."
posted by dorian at 8:52 AM on December 28, 2001


remlapm - How would lower CD prices lead to less radio play?
posted by NortonDC at 8:53 AM on December 28, 2001


I have a solution. Buy vinyl. I haven't bought a cd in 2 years, & my music collection grows after every pay check. :)
posted by password at 8:54 AM on December 28, 2001


NortonDC, 99% of all radio play you hear is a result of deals between labels and programming managers at radio stations. DJ's never pick the music, the PM's dictate promised playlists that they have coordinated with label reps. Getting your song onto that playlist takes time and money.

Most labels have a staff of people who sole job is to schmooze the PM's to play their latest singles. Promises of concert tickets, give-aways, artist visits and other merchandising perks cost money. Less money for labels>less money for promotions>less of a chance you are going to win over the PM.

All small labels would love to have the staff and funds to do this, but simply, we can't afford the manpower.
posted by remlapm at 9:18 AM on December 28, 2001


Well, for what it may be worth, I may start buying music again. I stopped when I found I could buy a $150,000,000 two-three hour movie Plus extras for the same cash it would cost to buy a $150,000 45 minute recording.

They've priced themselves back into my personal market, anyway.
posted by Perigee at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2001


I agree with benjh,

i remember when i used to buy music all the time at a best buy when they used to have CD's at about 10 bucks a CD.

I have a CD collection of 500 CDs much of which was purchased at around the 10 dollar range. Anything over 12 or 13 is just too much and not worth the risk of buying a CD that might be crap.
posted by Qambient at 9:25 AM on December 28, 2001


remlapm, artists will also take a hit because their contracts call for fixed percentages of retail prices. If prices go down, they make less per unit and their recoupment takes even longer.

As for independent labels, yes, they will have less money to market but so will majors. The point is, that costs have to come down across the board which means that retail will have to take a hit, as will independent promoters, etc. Massive recording budgets will also need to drop. The labels, whether they be independent or major, that figure out how to market creatively instead of buying radio plays will survive.

I have plenty of friends who record their own cds on the cheap, sell them at shows for $8 and make a profit after selling a few thousand. Simply broaden that approach and you'll see that it can work if the quality is there and you approach it with creativity.
posted by gfrobe at 9:31 AM on December 28, 2001


This is, if nothing else, an opportunity to (maybe) bring the entire music industry into line with sane pricing models -- from artists, through recording studios, distributors, radio stations, etc. etc. This much money leaching out of the system is guaranteed to have a significant impact. It also guarantees that some people will go out of business.

...but there I go being optimistic again.
posted by aramaic at 9:44 AM on December 28, 2001


The cost of CDs used to be justified by the high cost of pressing them and the media itself. It's funny that once the media became extremely cheap, CDs didn't get any cheaper. They can blame internet piracy, but everyone I know who downloads MP3s or burns MP3s does it to use their Rios or listen to custom tracks on their computers or in their cars. In addition, people use MP3s as a method of trying out a new artist.
posted by xyzzy at 10:00 AM on December 28, 2001


Wherehouse sells their used cd's for $9.99! Of which the artists get, uh, zip. I have no sympathy for the labels, or the record stores who seem one-and-the same all too often. God bless Napster and Morpheus for giving the masses the art and allowing the consumers to make truly educated desicions for once.

All artists should have a tip jar on their official homepages. I for one would be very happy to give Bob Dylan a $5 tip for his latest offerring. I'd give U2 $5 but they took $75 from me to sit behind the stage. But dont get me started.
posted by tsarfan at 10:01 AM on December 28, 2001


Frankly, the real reason I don't buy many CD's anymore is I don't find many of the new artists appealing. Truthfully, I'll pay what the market will bear for a CD from someone I like, but I just haven't been seeing them. I'm not into "urban" (if they still call it that) music, not do I find any of the clones (Spears - Moore - Aguilera) enjoyable. Plus, the continual blitz of overplayed new tracks removes any real reason to buy the CD, as I am now completely sick of the track.

Perhaps the advent of digital music piracy may be just what it takes to make the music industry re-evaluate exactly how they do business.

I'm sorry to hear about the smaller labels, like the one Remlapm works at, as they tend to be one of the sources of more original music out there.

But, perhaps, we may see a leaner, more hungry, more responsive market in the future as a result.

(And kudos to those that pointed out reduced media costs haven't reduced CD costs.)
posted by Samizdata at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2001


remlapm - Maybe I'm misinterpretting what you originally said, but I find it very hard to believe that if labels run out of payola cash there'll be less music on the radio.
posted by NortonDC at 10:19 AM on December 28, 2001


Norton, you're not misinterpreting, I am just not very good at articulating.

Not less music, less of a chance for independant label music. We gave up trying to get our stuff on CD 101.9 ( big jazz station in NY ) years ago, we simply could not allocate the resources. If there is less payola cash as a result of the retail price reduction, other indie labels will do the same thing we did, stop the promotions and focus on TV, Film, and international markets.
posted by remlapm at 10:26 AM on December 28, 2001


If CD's were sold to retailers at less that $9.99, independant labels will fold. We can't compete.

The independant labels I buy from don't compete on price they compete on *gasp* quality. I'm sure I'm not the exception here but indie music gives a wider choice, the shows are cheaper, and when I buy a CD from an indie label I know I'm not supporting the big label machine. I'm aware some indie labels work exactly like the big labels, but for the most part its a great deal.

Those suddenly in danger are the mediocre indie labels that promote artists that aren't too good to begin with. If the music enjoying public considers Mariah's new CD to have more artistic merit than what some indie label is selling then its good riddance.
posted by skallas at 10:31 AM on December 28, 2001


perhaps just less variety of music on the radio.... Well, actually, we are already there...perhaps there will be less music on the radio that was schmoozed on, and DJ's will go back to being DJ's, free from corporate playlists.

I for one am always willing to pay more for small label music.

Dedicated artists can build their own labels, tour because they love touring, gain fans because they are great...all without heavy radio play. Ani Difranco is a great example of that.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:32 AM on December 28, 2001


skallas, I'm with you 100%, and if everyone was like you and I, this wouldn't be an issue.

We both know what the reality is though. Click on our link and buy something you tennyboppers of America! Please. Feed me.
posted by remlapm at 10:40 AM on December 28, 2001


That means less money for promotions and marketing, less radio play, and less exposure for our A&R.

Is that supposed to be a bad thing?? You mean I won't be able to hear the same song 15 times a day, per station? You mean there might actually be something other than top 40 on the station? Tell me again how this is bad -- I must have missed the point...
posted by eas98 at 10:42 AM on December 28, 2001


Plus, I would think (there I go again) that Independent Labels take this as an opportunity to start their own webcast radio stations for exposure. Surely the resources spent getting the attention of a PM could be better put to use directly broadcasting to their niche via the internet?

(just a thought)
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 11:02 AM on December 28, 2001


I hope CDNow doesn't go away. Their 30-second song samples are invaluable for making sure you've got the correct song title so you can download, I mean purchase, the entire thing.
posted by kurumi at 11:08 AM on December 28, 2001


The independant labels I buy from don't compete on price they compete on *gasp* quality. I'm sure I'm not the exception here but indie music gives a wider choice, the shows are cheaper, and when I buy a CD from an indie label I know I'm not supporting the big label machine. I'm aware some indie labels work exactly like the big labels, but for the most part its a great deal.

Most independent labels of any import have distribution deals with the major labels. Very few, such as the R&B-oriented Malaco, which works within markets largely ignored by the majors, are totally independent.
posted by raysmj at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2001


I'd love to see some big-name recording artists (especially the ones who are publically at odds with the recording industry) arrange a big nation-wide (hell, international) telethon. Expose the fact that the deck is stacked against a big-label artist, and while the labels get rich, the artists get screwed. Man, if something like this could happen in my lifetime, I'd die a happy man.
A bunch of successful artists from a variety of genres have united to organize four simultaneous benefit concerts for the Recording Artists Coalition (RAC), a group that seeks to create more equitable standards for recording musicians.

Billed the Concerts for Artists Rights, the four shows will take place in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County, California, areas on February 26, the night before the 44th annual Grammy Awards.

RAC members scheduled to perform so far are the Eagles, Elton John, Billy Joel, Dixie Chicks, Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow at the L.A. Forum; No Doubt, Offspring, and Weezer at the Long Beach Arena; Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie and Korn at L.A. Sports Arena; and Clint Black, Trisha Yearwood and others at a venue to be determined. Other acts are expected to be added to all of the bills.
Ozzy, No Doubt, Korn, Weezer To Play Benefits For Musicians' Rights Group

posted by sudama at 11:26 AM on December 28, 2001


If CD's were sold to retailers at less that $9.99, independant labels will fold. We can't compete.

Sorry, but then you SHOULD fold. Or find niches and ways to compete in the new playing field. What makes you think that the traditional (and sickening) pay-for-play on the air model will continue, given new developments like digital broadcasts? Make a compelling product, and market it creatively; trying to be like the big boys is a losing (and dispiriting) proposition.
posted by rushmc at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2001


Eas98 said: You mean I won't be able to hear the same song 15 times a day, per station? You mean there might actually be something other than top 40 on the station? Tell me again how this is bad -- I must have missed the point...

The point is that since the big labels have deeper pockets than the indies, the indies will fold first, and what good stuff the indies manage to get played will disappear, leaving only the top 40 crap.
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:37 AM on December 28, 2001


Rush, a bit harsh, but you are correct. Hell, it's not my label, I am just a cog, and there are a hundred and one things I would do differently if that weren't the case.

Sad fact is, music is a business, and it takes money to make money. Once you drop the retail price of your product, your profit/cost ratio falls. Majors have the advantage of controlling radio, distribution and contingency budgets for poor selling albums, indies do not. Every album an indie puts out is a financial risk; once you increase that risk by lowering the aforementioned ratio, indies are going to start putting out more solid return on investments, which equals a lowering of the quality bar.

It's nasty, and I don't have the answer, but an evaluation of the way the indies operate as you suggest is an excellent way to start.
posted by remlapm at 11:44 AM on December 28, 2001


I remember when I was a kid I saved up all my money to get one of these new CDs... which were then from 8-10 USD. I got to the store and they raised the price to 12USD! All within like a week. As a younger version I couldn't understand why they'd raise the price for the exact same product -- and now I still don't understand.

I'm glad to see music is coming down to a reasonable level. All though there are some ludicrous prices for classical music.

Come on... $32 for a 2 CD set released over ten years ago!
posted by geoff. at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2001


Classical labels are the worst.The first to charge $19.99 for a cd was for one of those Three Tenors things.

The major labels want CDNOW and chains like Tower and others to fold.

The ultimate goal of Big Media is to install a digital jukebox in your home and charge you everytime you use it.

Hard copies of new recordings will be a thing of the past.You buy it and download it from the Columbia web site or you don't get it at all.They want to cut out the middle man.It won't work with anyone that already has a collection going, of course.Older people are too experienced to fall for digital-only music.

Their market is pre-teens and early teens with somebody's credit card.Get them used to the idea now and they will be totally used to it as they get older and have more money to spend.

The big-time, super-commercial, MTV acts will release music only available from the net.Fewer stores and less foot traffic will only intensify the move to digital only music.
It will also force indie labels to adopt the plan although they might still make cds and vinyl available on a very limited basis.

The biggest thing holding digital-only music back is that pesky file trading and a lack of speed on most net connections.They will wait for the download if it's free, but they don't want to pay AND wait for the download.The industry is also under the delusion that they can charge the exact same price for a download that they charge for a hard copy.

$17.99 to download 1 album?No, I won't do it...but if one of my favorite bands were to offer something digital-only, I would probably consider it if the price was fair.

Yeah, it reads like a wet dream for an industry geek, but this is what the big labels are trying to work toward.Digital only, direct sales.If they get this consolidation of distribution, then they will get even more greedy.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 12:04 PM on December 28, 2001


One big trouble for independents is that when it comes to troubled outlets (Tower for example) paying creditors the independents are pretty much at the end of the cash line. (One factor that drives those major-minor distro deals.) One would expect that as pure digital distro and payment schemes develop net-wise (and the tolltaker / bottleneck / tastemaker role of the majors diminishes as the industry is transmogrified from being based on scarcity to abundance or even surplus) this would become less imperative.

The majors are able to survive their bad choices because of their financial bulk, but their daily overhead and crapshoot-quality corporate decisionmaking are a big part of making those bad choices in the first place. (How many bands make back their major-label advance? One in thirty-five, or was that 135?) Independents have the advantage of low (or even hobby-level) overhead and "owning" their own decisions, based on being part of their target audience.

Minor (eg, Sub-Pop) and true independent labels that buy into the major way of looking at things (pay for play, huge recording budgets, big-ass promo, etc.) are likely to get burned at both economic ends.
posted by retrofut at 12:07 PM on December 28, 2001


I'd like to see an online database of where I can send my $5 directly to the artists and continue to just download all my songs since they get even less than that if I bought it.

Damn the man.
posted by Mark at 12:19 PM on December 28, 2001


The payola for play from radio stations would indicate (to me) that somehow the Clear Channel monopoly hurts not only independent radio but also independent labels and indie musicians. Doesn't it make sense that the company which owns over 90% of the radio stations in the US is negatively impacting the price, quality and diversity of music today with their monolithic "payola for the stockholders" approach to the industry? Not to mention the vertical nature of entertainment multinationals today controlling every large concert venue and the music video play time as well.
posted by nofundy at 12:24 PM on December 28, 2001


Part of the reasons CDs cost so much is that acts like Britney Spears or The Three Tenors are aimed at people who aren't necessarily big music fans, but want to own what's popular. So they will shell out the $17.99 or (ugh!) $19.99 for the brand name.

Personally, I think the sweet spot where a new CD is worth the money is $7.99 a pop, which is abouut what LPs cost 20 years ago. But they would make it up in volume.
posted by Erendadus at 12:27 PM on December 28, 2001


Do people actually listen to the radio?
posted by jnthnjng at 1:57 PM on December 28, 2001


If CD's were sold to retailers at less that $9.99, independant labels will fold. We can't compete.

Remlapm, I think you're too pessimistic about the price elasticity of indie buyers.

The proposition that "Britney Spears dropped to $10, therefore Guitar Wolf (for example) must also drop to $10" neglects the simple fact that Guitar Wolf fans would crawl over broken glass to get the latest release.

Yes, the market is smaller, but let's face it, among indie fans the demand side is price inelastic. GW could sell at $40 and still sell just as many albums.

...Just one Capitalist-and-Rabid-Indie-Fan's opinion...
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 2:00 PM on December 28, 2001


If CD's were sold to retailers at less than $9.99, independant labels will fold. We can't compete.

What about Dischord? They sell everything for $10 postage-paid, and they seem to do just fine. Most touring bands on indies sell their cd's for 8-10 bucks, so add a couple bucks for distribution and so on, and you're still at 10-12. And besides, indie rock is a niche market that doesn't even get a whole hell of a lot of competition from the majors. I don't think the average indie fan is just going to stop buying cd's, even if they are a couple bucks higher than the newest dreck from Britney et al.

And I just don't see how payola even comes into it. Indies haven't even been on the radar of non-college radio for years now, and many have survived just fine. If anything, this should level the playing field in the long run, by preventing the majors from devoting near-unlimited resources to promotion.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 6:02 PM on December 28, 2001


Here's another factoid about the majors:

...some 90% of the 6,000 CDs released domestically each year are unprofitable, according to major-label executives... (LA Times)

(Keep in mind that that figure probably includes only major and major-minor releases. And that "profitability" is being measured by a multibilliondollar industry.)
posted by retrofut at 6:24 PM on December 28, 2001


haqspan said: Am I the only one who remebers when the music companies were promising that CD prices would be much cheaper than tapes or albums since they were so cheap to produce?

They did this with diesel in the early 90s here in the UK. The government was trying to convince people to get diesel cars because the price of diesel would be lower than that of regular gasoline.

Turned out to be a heap of crap, diesel is now more expensive than gasoline.

You'll notice it going on with DVDs versus VHS cassettes too. Cassettes cost way more to produce than DVDs, but guess which are at least half the price in the shop right now. Yeah, cassettes.
posted by wackybrit at 4:09 AM on December 29, 2001


Turned out to be a heap of crap, diesel is now more expensive than gasoline.

I used to own a diesel car and if I bought diesel from a regular gas station it was like they were doing me a big favor thus the price was something like thirty to fourty cents more than gas. When I went to the truck stop it cost about the same price as gas, sometimes lower depending on the wacky fluctuations of gas prices we've had here in the US.

The real benefit of diesel is that its a more effiecient engine so you get a better MPG. You may be paying a little more but it goes a bit farther. If there were more outlets to buy cheap diesel, more demand, and if they actually started in the cold maybe we'd be better off.

CD prices were cheap once. Remember when they were sold in those big cardboard boxes so they would look just as big and sexy as LP covers? They were LP priced.
posted by skallas at 10:28 AM on December 29, 2001


jnthnjng:

> Do people actually listen to the radio?

I go out and walk for about an hour every night with a belt radio and earphones, and I try to time my walk to coincide with WUGA's "Local Noise" show where they play live recordings of local Athens bands you've never heard of and probably never will. Great show.


darukaru:

> And if you want that new Britney Spears song? Gotta
> subscribe.

What a big if. Somehow my arm doesn't feel even a little bit twisted. Not only do I not want any Brit'Sync product any more than I wanted Leif Garrett or the Partridge Family, I have a really hard time feeling sorry for the little consumeroids who do want it. (Though I did get a hoot from "Oops, The Real Slim Shady Did It Again.mp3", available from your favorite p2p sharing service, which at least proved how many radio-friendly songs are actually the same song.)


remlapm:

> Sad fact is, music is a business, and it takes money to
> make money.

The idea is to fix "sad facts", not helplessly adapt to them. What the present developing situation may give us is (I sincerely and fervently hope) a way to stop music from being a business. Don't sell your children, don't sell your soul, don't sell your art.

Here's what an "indy record company" should do for its clients: take tracks recorded by the band at live gigs using their DAT or minidisk or half-inch 8-track or whatever they've got; or tracks produced in the band's used-to-be-living-room-is-now-recording-studio and recorded to their PC hard drive using their WAV/MIDI sequencing package -- CuBase, Cakewalk, etc. Slap these tracks on a CD; get it mastered and have 2000 copies pressed; present these 2000 copies to the band, in return for a fee earned by the band doing whatever they do for actual money -- delivering pizzas, delivering babies, driving forklifts, arguing tort cases.

That right there is all a record company needs to do or should do for a band. No advance, no promotion, no distribution, no royalties, no bullshit. Band earns back its investment selling the CDs at gigs (which encourages them to get out and gig more) and by mailorder from their website.

If there's anyone who's going to yammer about how quality will suffer with this approach, I say go listen to some of the on-location recordings the Smithsonian has made over the decades, of performers who actually made their (hand-to-mouth) living as dirt farmers -- then try telling me how low-quality that stuff is. I grant you there would be a shake-out. Among record companies, surely, but who cares? The shake-out I look forward to will occur among the bands. The ones in it for music, the ones who would just as soon stop breathing as stop singing, will keep right on singing. The ones that were in it for money, pussy and Peruvian marching powder will be gone in a heartbeat, and forgotten in less than that.
posted by jfuller at 12:27 PM on December 29, 2001


jfuller: true dat. If music ceases to be a commodity it doesn't mean music ceases to be. I always think of Mozart shrugging, saying "hmmm, not much cash in this music thing," and becoming a florist.

Curious what will happen in the film industry, given it costs much more to produce filmed entertainment that can meet the public's so-called standards. What will all our stars do without their $20-million paycheques? Won't somebody think of the stars?
posted by D at 12:44 PM on December 29, 2001


"Pirates used to say "we do this because prices are too high".
What will they say now ? "We do this because we can't afford the gas to drive to the mall" ?"


I do it because I don't want to pay. Period. If the music moves me and I like more than one song, I buy the CD to support the artist.

And I too, remember when CDs were promised to be cheaper than cassettes because they were cheaper to manufacture. That day has not come even now, 15+ years after the CD was invented.
posted by schlaager at 7:35 PM on December 29, 2001


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