I buy a lot of music, both digitally and on CD. And, for this reason, I choose carefully what I buy, to avoid having my music budget get out of control. I’m a fan of classical music, as regular readers have noticed, but also of many other genres. For classical music, the trend has been toward large box sets at low per-disc price (sometimes as low as $1 per disc from major labels, and even less from labels that licence content from others), leading me to buy a fair number of such sets to discover music or composers I’m not familiar with.
But when I buy downloads, the prices are pretty much fixed: $9.99 per album has become the standard price, though in some cases, multi-discs sets are sold at a cheaper per-disc price. (In many cases they are not, leading to digital prices of some sets that are way above the prices of CDs.) At this price, I think twice before buying an album. Even when I listen to previews, I hesitate. It’s not that I’m a cheapskate; it’s simply that I’m a big consumer of music, and at ten bucks a pop, that money adds up quickly.
Yesterday, I came across an album I didn’t know by itsnotyouitsme. I had bought this group’s first release after reading a mention in the New York Times a couple of years ago; back then, I was a member of eMusic, so I was able to download it as part of my monthly allocation. Yesterday, I was flipping through my iTunes library looking for music I hadn’t listened to in a while. I spotted the first one and tossed it in my “Rotation” playlist, then decided to Google the group and see if there was anything else, and found that there was, indeed, an album released last year.
When I got to the page of the second recording, fallen monuments, I saw something interesting: they were selling it directly for only $5. At that price, I didn’t even bother to listen to the samples; I liked the first one so much, and $5 was so cheap, that I just bought it right away. Later, out of curiosity, I looked on iTunes, where it was indeed available, but at a price of – you guessed it – $9.99.
I don’t often buy music on impulse like that, but there are a number of artists I follow whose music I’ll buy no matter what. The interesting thing about this specific artist was that for $5 I was willing to make an impulse purchase without even listening, whereas at $10 I think twice, even three times, before buying.
What does this say? Is $10 too much to charge for an album? It’s up to each artist to decide, but perhaps at $5 they would sell far more music than at $10. It’s already been seen that Kindle books can generate more income at lower prices; could the same be true for music? Is the $10 base price a mistake? I have no answers, simply an anecdote about my own experience.Posted: 4/20/2011 by kirk | Filed under: music | Tags: digital music | 2 Comments »