I had an interesting discussion with my son tonight. It was about record album pricing. It wasn’t an argument, it was just a discussion. There are some companies that think they can actually charge $140.00 US for a double album set, because it’s out of print. Yeah. Well, the group in question (I won’t say their name because I don’t want to cause a fuss…) isn’t something you’ve heard of unless you’re really into obscure groups. It’s me, so yeah…it’s obscure. I brought up my son right, too. 😉
So, here’s a band that most people haven’t heard of selling a double album set for the price of four at the current rates. The record company is probably setting on a warehouse of these albums thinking they’re going to make a killing at that price. I seriously doubt it. So, why the ridiculous price? Because it’s out of print? Hm. You know what can change that? Make more! If you’re sitting on albums you can’t sell (and I strongly suspect they really aren’t selling, too), just drop the pricing, and if they do start to sell; well, whip up some more. Or, is that the plan anyway? You know; dupe the loyal fans into thinking they’re getting a very special item, and if they sell enough of them re-release in the hopes of getting more fans later on.
Either way, it represents the skewed thinking record companies have at this time. As I stated before in another post, I don’t think vinyl’s going away. But, it’s going to take a massive hit again if the pricing for this product doesn’t come in line with it’s actual value. See, I honestly don’t have a problem with paying anywhere between $16 to $20 for an standard release album. If it’s on high quality vinyl, then yes; up the price between $27 to $35 depending on the quality of the vinyl and the recording itself. That seems fair.
A more realistic price will also mean higher volumes of sales. Why not go for quantity? They do it with CD’s and online downloads. It’s a numbers game. Are they betting against themselves, then? Do they think the vinyl market is just a fad, and that it will go away? I don’t think they really know their customer base as well as they think they do.
People who buy vinyl have their reasons for doing so, just as much as those who buy CD’s for their older cars or digital downloads for their phones/players, etc. Here’s an idea…since cassettes haven’t really come back strong (yet), why not offer a free coupon in the album for a digital download or free streaming through their apps? That way, we can have our vinyl and hear it everywhere, too? That can also justify a higher price just like Blurays with their UltraViolet offers.
I think there are huge mistakes being made along with missed opportunities when it comes to record albums. It could be we’re looking at modern day marketing kids who never understood what music meant to people “back in the day”. People who didn’t have music on just for filling in the background, but to enjoy deeply just as much if not more than aroma therapy and video games. Sitting back with your eyes closed and getting immersed in the music; What a great way to unwind. What a great way to share an experience of fun or awe with friends right there in your living room. I remember a more interesting time in my life when this brought people together. People who didn’t always agree on politics, TV, Movies, Books, etc. And, you didn’t spend the whole day or night listening only to the music. You brought food, you played cards, you told jokes and bonded.
We could be missing something special again if a record album becomes more expensive than a night out at the movies. True, the argument can be made that the album will last longer than the date and should cost more, but since artists never stand still there will always be new albums to buy. And, one group will lead to another and so on. Besides, most people don’t have theaters as large as even a Mall screen, anyway. I can understand why movies cost so much to see. Also, records didn’t always keep the peace, either. However, the focus wasn’t on bits and bytes, but on which bits in the snack tray to bite.
So, please Mr. & Ms. Record Company Executives, please reconsider the pricing on your albums. I don’t think we can afford to lose this opportunity again. We might not be able to really bring it back the way the world keeps moving forward. I, for one, enjoy stepping back every once in a while.