Joined the itunes bandwagon but not ecstatic

I’ve just joined the iTunes bandwagon since receiving some gift cards this Christmas. I’ve had an ipod for over a year, but that’s just mainly to play music from my CD selection, and I still prefer to rummage through CD stores for any gems or good deals.

I was a little disappointed but not surprised when trying out iTunes for the first time. Tracks are $1.69 per track (Australian dollars) or around $16 per album generally, but I did notice a lot of classic songs selling for over $2.

At that price I’ll only buy downloads if I’m a dedicated fan, but lately I’ve been finding good enough music in CD stores for $10 -admittedly they’re usually discount bins, but I’ve seen stuff like Jeff Buckley, Groove Amada, 2pac sold for this price.

The plus side of itunes is you can listen to samples before you buy. I wanted to check out Japanese court music, because I like some traditional Asian music, but when I listened there was an awful hiss, so I didn’t buy it. But I did buy a track from a Taiwanese band I’m interested in, and there’s no way I’d find a CD copy in a shop.

Interestingly there’s an article from Billboard about the decline in growth of digital sales:
Analysis: It’s Official – The Digital Slowdown is Here
And it touches upon the price of itunes (in the US).

I feel in Aus, generally speaking, $1 is the best price for digital downloads -it’s an unlimited supply, why make it so pricey? If I can by $1 per song now in some CD stores (or less now that they often add bonus tracks) and have the album artwork and pics and add it to my shelf, why pay more for a download?

And why make consumers worry about the math -if it’s a dollar per song, they immediately know that with a $20 card they’ve got twenty songs -why be stingy and make them work out how many songs they can squeeze from a twenty dollar card at $1.69 per track?

And maybe there’s a tipping point. If tracks are so cheap, people will sign up and add tracks in large numbers without tallying each song. They’d be more likely to take gambles on music, check out bands in their town, look into new music. But at $1.69 per track I guess they’re not going to. If it’s convenient and tracks are 20c, that’s like a phone call. No one worries about tallying up their local phone calls -they make em’ all day long.

But this is a gamble for musicians and the industry. For it to work consumers would have to download 10 times more -but it’s possible if it’s convenient to do so. And the supply is inexhaustible -isn’t that an important economic fact?

But I suppose this is all in the ‘music like water’ debate.


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