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ARSCLIST  February 2009

ARSCLIST February 2009

Subject:

Re: Good idea, dumb business model so far -- soapbox

From:

Ben Torre <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:49:31 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (66 lines)

At 10:02 AM 2/12/2009, Bob O wrote:
>The tech sector press keeps repeating this mantra yet the fact 
>remains that there is simply no evidence I'm aware of that reducing 
>the price of recordings increases sales volume. It isn't like this 
>hasn't been tried by both retail stores and labels.

Over the last 10 years or so, I have been a regular at the East 
Stroudsburg, PA Wal-Mart.  This particular store is what they call a 
"Supercenter", meaning it sells everything under one roof including 
food.  Nowadays, I get out there once every three months or so.

I have kept an eye on the CD section.  CDs went from fairly brisk 
movers (enough to warrant a section by itself) to a small section 
within the home theater section.  Just by observing the foot traffic 
and the price points, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out 
what was going to happen.  Videos outstripped the CD sales.  The more 
you sell, the more floor space you get from Wal-Mart.  Not 
selling?  Wal-Mart makes your section smaller, or eliminates it completely.

Complain if you want, but the general public prefers a big-screen 
television set to a big-ass stereo system.  Put a $5 DVD in front of 
them and a $12 CD, and they will take the DVD every time.  Same thing 
happened when VHS tapes were selling for $10 and CDs $15-plus.  CDs 
sat idle in the music section to the point where I could wipe the top 
layer of dust/dirt off with my fingers!  This isn't what you call an 
indication of product that moves quickly!

Add to this, over the last 5 years I have seen a mass-ditching of 
exceptional old stereo gear.  I have received, free-for-nothing, all 
manner of old receivers, turntables, cassette and open reel decks, FM 
tuners, speakers, etc.  Brands have been Marantz, McIntosh, Pioneer, 
Sansui, Kenwood, Lafayette, Teac, Sony, Panasonic....  can't BEGIN to 
tell you how many LPs and CDs have been flat-out given to me.  As a 
teenager, I couldn't have imagined a windfall like this in my wildest 
dreams!  I've made a habit of getting the stuff up and running, and 
typically passing it on to musicians who appreciate good sound.  The 
rest of the general population?  For them it is car stereos, iPods, 
and computer speakers.

Based on my observation, people don't want big stereo rigs, nor do 
they want to be bothered with media copies.  They also won't pay more 
for audio-only when there is a video available at generally half the 
price of the audio-only medium.  I don't like this change at all, but 
I cannot ignore it.

I *have* seen some CD movement at the local K-Mart... but that was 
with CDs priced at $2.99 each.  Strangely enough, those were amongst 
some of the best-sounding CDs I ever heard!  Was a real thrill to 
hear The Byrds so cleanly and without a lot of compression doing 
Tambourine Man.  Ditto for Jose Feliciano and a few other titles I picked up.

>If you ask people what they think, they'll tell you everything on 
>the planet is overpriced but when they actually want a recording bad 
>enough to reach for their wallet, the argument falls apart in the 
>real world of commerce.

Given the current economic situation, I suspect music will be a tough 
sell when the real choice is between losing your home or putting food 
on the table.  The music biz is competing for the same disposable 
income that the Hollywood gang is, and that amount is shrinking every day.

>In fact most stores sell budget classics for a dollar ABOVE list price!

Maybe that's because they are the only thing in the entire store 
worth listening to? 

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