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January 04, 2008


I have a pretty large CD collection. I listen to a fair bit of internet radio, and besides have not a lot of free time to listen to music, particularly new stuff. Besides, young people's music these days... So I rarely buy new music. $30 a CD (AUD) doesn't help much, sure.

But I just bought sound unheard Saul William's new "The inevitable rise and liberation of Niggy Tardust".

I've heard one or two tracks from Saul Williams, a poet/rapper who is also an actor, and they have stayed with me for years.
This new album, produced by Trent Reznor, and available, AFAICT only online, is either $5, or free, depending on your proclivities. You choose.

At $5, for me it was a bit of a no brainer. At >$5 hmmm, maybe, listen to a few tracks, do I like it? ...

So for me, $5 seems like a threshold, a liminal amount - a new work by someone I respect, at $5, I'm almost certain to buy it. Any more, and (for me at least) it will take some tire kicking. And at $10 plus, the iTunes threshold, more or less, it has to be stellar. Even Prince has to work for his money at $10.

For me at least, doubling the price dramatically reduces the amount I'll buy. Maybe I'm a cheap bastard. What about you?

What's the no brainer price? What's the no way price? What's the sweet spot?

January 4, 2008 | Permalink


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Nice choice, Saul Williams is good.

I don't operate the way you do. The great thing about bands letting you choose the price is that I download for free first. Then I see whether I like the album. If I like the album, I'll re-download, this time paying some money. I would imagine that a lot of people do this, and it's one reason why the reported average price and percentage of downloaders who pay is so low (you download twice, pay once). It's a flaw in the stats interpretation that every major news reporter has made, treating a download as a person. That's a bad assumption.

As a rule, I don't download music - the quality is dire. But I'd pay £7-8 for a downloaded album if I liked it. More if the tracks were in FLAC format. I don't know what that equates to in $(AU).

Posted by: Matt Wilcox | Jan 5, 2008 1:04:40 AM

For me $5 seems about right - I've got monthly donations to internet radio stations that cost that much, I've paid that much for albums in the past.

But I've also paid $15-20 for stuff that I know is worth the money.

In the end I'm with Matt - I'll download once to see what it's like, then pay what I think it's worth.

(downloading Saul's album now :)

Posted by: Lindsay Evans | Jan 5, 2008 3:40:02 AM

I tend to listen to a lot of newer and varied music all the time. Taking recommendations on a constant basis. I guess I'm constantly on the search for that killer sound.

When I go to buy CDs (which I do regularly) I have already downloaded and listen to the album, I now just buying the final high quality version. The price can vary from $10 - $25. I source my CDs worldwide.

I will not buy an artist unheard at any price. However I will not buy DRMed online music period.

Posted by: Gary Barber | Jan 5, 2008 12:48:25 PM

We've all been burned buying without previewing, right? So we'll always look for a way to preview music before buying.

The no brainer price for me in a record shop is about $10 for an album. I'll pay $20 happily enough but by the time it hits $30 I'm doing the "how much do I like these guys" thing. Over $30 has to be a band I really love and/or a big compilation, special edition, box set or whatever. That's not strictly true I guess - I listen to some relatively unpopular music so I've regularly paid $30+ for albums shipped in from overseas (particularly industrial and trance). I accept the premium for obscure stuff.

Online... I am yet to actually buy music online as the price always seems stupid. iTunes is what... $15ish for an album? At a crappy bitrate, with DRM and no artwork? That's taking the piss, considering the massive reduction in distribution costs.

I'd probably pay $5 for an album I guess. Though I'd rather pay $10, get the CD and rip it myself. I can always rip it again in ten years when iPods are as quaint a memory as cassette walkman, so long as we still have drives that can read CDs.

Posted by: Ben Buchanan | Jan 5, 2008 6:30:05 PM

Not that worthy to buy some crap cd's from newbies artist.

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