A Better Way To Buy Music

Posted by Kirby Turner on March 5, 2008

Nine Inch Nails quietly released their latest album, Ghost I-IV, online Sunday night but it was anything but quiet. Fans flooded the server to get the new album. This caused an overload on the server, which finally was brought down on Monday for a few hours to correct the problems. Despite the temporary server problems in the first 24 hours, this experiment in how to buy and sale music online is a complete success in my opinion and I hope more artists follow NIN’s lead.

NIN is offering a free sampling of the new album, Ghost I, which includes the first 9 songs. You can buy the complete 36-song album, Ghost I-IV, for only $5, which I did right away. A great bargain in my opinion. Other purchase options include a 2-CD set for $10, deluxe packaging for $75, and a limited signed edition, which sold out in less than 24 hours, for $300 (2500 limited edition units x $300 = $750,000 gross revenue in 24 hours…awesome!).

Years ago I collected music, first on vinyl than on CD. My total music collection was around 3,000 pieces but a third of those pieces were stolen when I moved to NYC. This depressed me and I was no longer motivated to buy new music. I went from buying hundreds of CDs a year to buying less than 5. And this lack of motivation has nothing to do with pirated music available on the Internet. My MP3 library is a copy of my favorite music from my CD collection, not pirated music. So over the past 8 years I have not listened to or bought much in the way of new music. But this is slowly changing.

Recently I bought a couple of albums from Amazon MP3 Download store. Why now? Because Amazon offers DRM-free music. Buying music online is nothing new but I have a real problem with DRM enabled music that limited my personal use. So the introduction of DRM-free music was the first step in getting me to buy new music, but I’m still not buying as much music as I use to. Why?

I prefer buying complete albums. Sure, I have a favorite song here and there, but to me the entire album represents the complete vision the artist had at that time. I can’t image buying and listening to only 1 track from Lou Reed’s New York. You really must listen to the entire album, and in song order not shuffled. Again, in my opinion. But buying complete albums even on Amazon MP3 Download store can be expensive especially for some of the music I like. For example, The Eye by Yello is $19.80 on Amazon MP3 and that’s only $2 less than what I paid for the CD when it first came out.

So the high cost of digital music downloads keeps me from buying as much music as I once did. Why pay CD price for something that is digital only? The lack of packaging and materials alone should sufficiently lower the price for a complete album.

So while I’m still slow to buy music like I once did, but that will likely change if more artist follow the lead of Trent Reznor and NIN. $5 is a great price for a digitally downloaded album, a price I’m willing to pay over and over again. And it is probably a good price for the artist too who, like NIN did with Ghost I-IV, publishes and sells the album directly to the consumer bypassing the record industry. I don’t know the actual figures but I got to believe a $5 album sold as digital download directly by the artist will put more money in the artist’s pocket than selling same album for $14 on CD though a record company.

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