Ubiquitous, Cheap and Out of Control

Compact DiscsThe problem with the record industry is not piracy, it’s that its primary product — the compact disc — has been completely devalued. There are some pretty convincing arguments for this that the RIAA obstinately refuses to acknowledge: principally, that the cost of CD’s is out of proportion with both recent inflationary history and the cost of competitive entertainment media like, specifically, DVD’s.I’ve been thinking lately that there’s one more argument that is not as widely acknowledged though: the CD as a physical format (that is, any kind of CD, whether audio, CD-R, CD-RW etc.) is now so commonplace a commodity that it’s virtually impossible for consumers to continue to place any kind of value on it. You can find CD’s everywhere; in milk crates at the flea market, on blankets spread on the sidewalk by street vendors, in hundred packs at CompUSA, stuffed inside your mailbox courtesy of AOL. I’d be willing to bet that more miscellaneous CD’s pass through a consumer’s hands in a single day than vinyl records would have in a single month during that format’s golden age.

To me it’s pretty apparent that the entire business model is boat with a swiss cheese hull, and no amount of persecuting individual consumers will repair that. Basically, the music business needs to get into a new business.

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One Comment

  1. So now that Apple has launched the music store… will they turn around file sharing by offering ease of use, consist quality and lower than record store prices? Given the continued persecution of individuals and companies I think a resonable alternative has a fighting chance.