Friday, February 03, 2006

Music to my ears

Ars Technica has an article about the cost of music and digital music downloads. Having been a confirmed music addict since late high-school (I own ~1000 CDs and probably 150 records), I am acutely aware of the cost of music. I probably purchase on average 2+ albums a month. I have yet to download anything online because of DRM concerns and quality concerns. The music industries current behaviour appalls me, although having read some business books, I understand why they are doing what they are doing. The problem is that the current path seems to be one that actually hurts the industry in the long run. Not that any of the current management cares, they will have cashed out with their millions first.

I guess what hurts, is to see an industry with such amazing potential for customer involvement, aim to milk that same customer dry. How else can you explain CD prices? CDs are dramatically cheaper to produce than 15 years ago, yet the price of a CD has more than increased with inflation (I think... lets see, 12$ ten years ago, and 18$ now, yup, that beats inflation). Being in the tech industry, I know plenty of music addicts who make tidy salaries and can afford these prices. But I also know, from years working at my college radio station and hanging out at indie music shops, that some of the greatest potential lies in the starving young music lovers. Ever seen High Fidelity? Those guys are the guys who get people to buy music. They play the Beta Band while you are looking for something else (or just browsing, looking for some hidden jems in the used section) and now you are on the hook for 2 CDs.

So why is the industry scorning these jewels of potential? Probably because those kind of guys will mostly do that regardless, almost. There is a point, when pushed too far, by rising prices and craptacular major releases, that they will turn away and do something else. The other problem is that they tend to promote random independent bands and local bands, rather than the latest ex-mouseketeer starlet that the industry is promoting.

In the meanwhile, there are strong veins of "The innovator's Dilemma" in the current situation. The actions of the larger corporations is actually opening new doors for the smaller shops. Sure the independents can't get on the Walmart shelves, but while the corporations are trying to make online purchasing as awkward and expensive as possible, the independents are gladly taking cash from an entire new class of customer. and various other online venues are providing new ways for smaller bands to get their name out. Services like and Pandora provide an amazing opportunity to introduce people to new music that they may not hear on the radio other otherwise be exposed to.

In the meantime I watch in disgust at the RIAA and MPAA dinosaurs, just waiting for the inevitable fall.


Blogger Unknown said...

Cool, I picked up a few interesting names from your post. By the way, here is my article “Free download of communism”
on the same subject.

4:49 PM  

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