Read the story here about Universal’s newly proposed pricing structure which will make new CDs from established artists around $10 each.
I worked in music retail for years, managing or working at Record Bar, Camelot, Manifest, and Disc Jockey as well as with rackjobber Handelman, and I was calling for this price drop in the late 1990s, when new superstar releases started coming out at $18 each and singles were a dead format.
With a $10 top retail, sale pricing will be as low as $7, less if you’re talking about a loss-leader environment such as Best Buy or Wal-Mart, and if the top new releases are this cheap, that means the catalog product must also get reduced pricing as well. Despite all the hype on both legal and illegal downloads, I’m sure there are enough people out there with CD players who will be more likely to buy the physical copy at that price point. (a poll to that effect on the post linked above was at an 82% “yes” vote on that very point when i read it.)
This won’t even slow down the digital adoption rate a bit, I’m sure, as those who have converted to that method of getting their music won’t be going backwards. It may, however, finally kill off the used CD market–if the new release is 7-10 dollars, what’s the used copy going to sell for, $3? The independent stores who have survived for this long on the margins provided by used CD sales may be hit the worst by this, unfortunately.
I still think the labels need to concentrate more on releasing music people will want to hear, not just what they want to make us listen to…but that’s another whole post.