Wednesday, November 16, 2005

No Sympathy for the Devil

This is a message of encouragement for people to share and burn CDs (and DVDs for that matter). If america's oil and oil related corporations did not already control our political system they may be jealous of our countries "music industry." Why? For one thing, there is an infinite amount of "new" music. The same cannot be said of fossil fuels. And while gas companies are posting record profits, the markup on the music we buy, likely, blows it away.

First, the high-ball price I've heard for producing a store-ready CD is under $1.50. A few years ago I read it was about $.87 but it's difficult to find an accurate number. It is probably safe to assume the music industry pays about the same cost to produce and distribute their CDs as regular people pay to purchase a generic blank CD at retail cost. Regardless, the price of a CD has never seemed to dropped for consumers from the time CDs first became available for purchase. Most CDs sit in stores, marked from $13-20 for a rough profit of 1300-2000%. Worse, businesses like "iTunes" (Apple) are now selling music online. Original prices were $.99 a song or $9.99 per album. Now they are discussing raising these prices, up to $15 for an album.

Consumers were already getting screwed, now we are not even being provided a concrete product, yet we are still being charged the same screw-job price. In a logical world, repeatedly sending out copies of specific files via computer would lower the price. Instead, they seem to support the gouging taking place in music stores in hopes of raking in the green stuff. A price increase by iTunes seems to suggest the industry does not fear consumers sharing music, even to goad them to do so.

Not to mention that the artists we hold so dear see very little money from these sales. Maybe a dollar or two. Most musicians make money filling stadiums on cross-country tours. And the bigger an artist gets, the more they themselves become a product. Look at Mariah Carey: She signed a four album / $80 million contract with Virgin records (subsidiary of EMI, who appear to be very bad at their business). Her first album with the label sold 2 million copies (The Math: $10 profit per album times 2 million CDs sold applied to four albums equals "breaking even"). Compared to the 20 million copies of her best selling album ever, this was a bad sign and the company bought their way out of the contract. Mariah went to a psychiatric clinic. All those greed-driven numbers looked good on paper, but then the sad fact that Mariah is human and not some lab-created, silicone-injected, dolphin/underwear model hybrid spoiled the deal. Metallica Inc. sues Napster Inc.. The bulb in Britney's head gets a surge of electricy and she almost realizes she's been used.

Someone, please! Teach musicians an effective way to market and distribute their own CDs so we can all stop feeding these corporate pigs. Until this happens or the industry sets more reasonable prices, please burn burn burn your own discs. And don't fall for the Hollywood commercials trying to grab at your heartstrings saying tool-guys can't afford to eat if you burn their DVDs. If they can afford $20 million for Tom Cruise, they can pay the little guys who put the movie together.

Bootlegs from China may pose a small threat (how many do you own? probably none unless its anime. freak.). But in my experience burning CDs has actually worked in the favor of the corporation: A friend burned a CD for me, I liked it and bought a legit version for my sister and recommended the CD to several acquaintances who I know to have bought it. The band is now better known and burning the one CD generated 3 or more legitimate sales.


Native Minnow said...

I agree. I can't tell you how many bands I've been introduced to because someone burned me a cd of theirs. Usually, this results in me not only going out and buying other cd's from that band (I've bought all the cd's put out by Wilco, Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket and Jim White to name a few), but letting my other friends know about them as well.

That line about the light bulb going off above Britney Spear's head and having her almost realize she's been used cracked me up!

Simplekindofman said...

One would be hard pressed to convince me it's stealing anyway... You copy a movie or some file, and what has someone lost? Nothing. Besides that, my computer is my property and to restrict one of its functions that is not actually doing any harm (nothing lost by anyone), is a violation of my property rights. There is a conflict between intellectual property rights and physical property rights that would be very hard to reconsile.

Gordon said...

The music industry can suck it, but I'm more sympathetic to the movie industry on this. When you drop a hundred million into making a film, that's a lot of money to recover just to break even. But the movie industry has been much smarter about this. They have much more reasonable pricing on the DVD's. I think once they just start letting us download the movies over our satellite or cable and cut out the middleman the price will drop again and the incentive to bootleg won't be that great.