I paid $11.98 for Boxer. Beggars Banquet is acknowledging that at least three people will own a copy as a result, essentially pricing the album at about $4. We’re still waiting for CD prices to fall, as consumers were promised 20 years ago, but maybe this is a sign of things to come. It’s probably easier for independent labels to get away with this sort of thing, given that their customers tend to view record-buying as conscious support of developing artists, but I have to wonder if the majors couldn’t take a lesson from this too. Why not drive down the price of music, if it’s going to result in increased popularity? How much could you just give away, and still make money?
The real solution — which goes against everything that major record labels stand for — is to give consumers more bang for their buck when they buy music, in the form of value-added content that can’t easily be ripped and burned. Whether it’s video or ringtones or posters or discounts on concert tickets, the labels have to try something, they have to promote it well, and they have to give it a chance to work. Otherwise what’s to stop a nation of music buyers from evolving into rippers and burners — if we haven’t already?
I was sitting next to a gentleman on a plane about a week back and we struck up a conversation as he was reading a peculiarly titled book and I had to find out what it was about. One thing led to another and we talked for a long while mostly about our travels and ‘adventures’ on foreign soil, Vaclav Havel & the Plastic People of the Universe, and then he posed a few questions related to the state of the music industry. In short, he essentially said there was actually a time when his band could record an album and sell enough copies to ‘recoup’. He wondered, beyond selling albums how could his band recoup the costs.
The cat’s out of the bag…