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Would music albums for £1 reduce piracy problems?
Friday 15 October 2010 12:51:59 by Andrew Ferguson

Competition between supermarkets has seen some brand new CD albums appearing for under £10 in a bid to persuade modern consumers to buy music rather than pirate it. Amazon offer albums for as low as £3, well below historical music prices, however this has not yet seen any reduction in piracy levels.

Rob Dickins, who ran the Warner Music label for some 15 years until 1998, is calling for album pricing to be slashed to just £1 in an effort to make buying music so cheap that people will be a lot more willing to speculatively buy material they think they may like, and hopefully reduce the level of piracy that goes on. While the costs of transport, warehousing, stocking shelves may mean a physical CD for £1 might be a push, offering them for £1 online should be feasible. The key to a plan like this succeeding is that all the levels involved in getting an album onto the market need to accept that they are providing a commodity item, and accept reductions in their cut in return for large volumes of sales.

Both the music and film industry need to address making their material more accessible to Internet users, both in terms of price and availability. While Ofcom is shortly to announce the full code for the anti-piracy letter writing campaign, which after 12 months may transform into a system which includes penalties, it also expects rights holders to ensure alternative methods of obtaining material are available and accessible. As things stand now, it is far easier to find unlawful copies of many TV shows and films than to obtain a legitimate copy, often because of the traditional way of releasing content via different parties in different parts of the world.

Virgin Media for example is trying to make things easier for users, with a music subscription service in partnership with Spotify and some other ISPs offer similar services.

Through its strict new laws on unlawful file sharing, France is attempting to encourage young people to buy music now by subsidising pre-paid cards (where you buy a card for €25 and the government adds another €25 to card, allowing people to buy music to the value of €50). The danger is that it assumes that as users get older, they will be happy to pay twice as much as young people for their music, and it may encourage music labels to artificially keep their prices high. It also ignores the over-25 year olds who are most likely to be trying to format shift an existing music collection into digital formats, where people may feel that after having bought an album in numerous formats over the years, perhaps they are entitled to getting the next format at a lower price.


Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago
I don't condone piracy. However I seem to remember vinyl LPs were in the region of 5.99; CDs came along - cheaper to produce - and they were about 9.99. That's dropped a bit now but downloading the CD online is either about the same price or sometimes higher. The industry itself has a lot to answer for in terms of taking people for absolute mugs and shouldn't be entirely surprised at the results when it fails to embrace the modern world and the sort of access people want - and might be prepared to pay fair prices for.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
Its a brill idea, the only problem is that it is easier to torrent something than to buy from eg. itunes. It isn't the money aspect so much as the fact that connections are so slow for so many people its just easier to leave a torrent running and go to bed than wait for a secure connection to do a single download. I don't torrent myself but have spoken to many that do. They do it cos that is an effective way to get music. The fact it is free is not the issue, it just works.
Posted by jrawle over 7 years ago
I still think a licensing system would be better. For an annual fee of maybe £100-200, you would have the right to download legally via file sharing. That's more than the average spend on media, so revenue would go up, and artists' work would be enjoyed by a far wider audience. £1 albums would still mean the record industry control what they want you to buy, without the choice offered by P2P.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
cd - I would say torrents would be slower than a direct download from a proper music service.
Posted by Legolash2o over 7 years ago
I buy a lot of my music directly from my iPhone (iTunes) and it much easier, although i think £1 for an album is abit cheap, i would pay something like £4-5 for an album.

As cyberdoyle said above it is alot easier to use file sharing as you can just leave it all night.

When GoogleTV is released in the UK then i would probably get all my films from that instead, if they are at a reasonable price, it all depends on my broadband speed as i soon will be upgrading to a 50down/50up package (£23pm)!
Posted by Legolash2o over 7 years ago
I mostly use iTunes to purchase just the 1 song from an album, which is great!!
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
The biggest problem I have with downloading is that it's almost impossible to find lossless compressed music legally. I refuse to take a step back in quality after all those years buying CDs.
Posted by TheGuv over 7 years ago
I'd love to see the likes of Spotify integrated into a STB as part of an overall package for my comms.

With many linking up STBs to amplifiers/surround kits etc it is a natural step forward IMO.
Posted by jasperx over 7 years ago
As plenty of others have observed, the difference is not between one price and another, it is between free and "anyprice".
Secondly, there is a generation thing. Once people cherished their vinyl albums, nowadays music has a lifetime approaching that of newspapers.

Even old gits like me will balk at paying £16 for an CD they couldn't download. And yes, it really was £16 in HMV, I laughed.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
GMAN99, direct downloads are still very difficult in many areas. trust me. Torrents just work. eventually. They crap up your system much of the time but the kids don't seem to mind that. They won't sit there waiting while something downloads from itunes on dial up. They make their selection and check back the next day. seen em doin it. It will be a different ball game when we all have good connectivity. Legal will come into its own. I think file sharing is efficient way of transferring data myself. But pirate sites are well dodgy.
Posted by Firefalcon over 7 years ago
£1 album? Who wants to bet they'll throw retarded DRM on it or be really low quality which will in turn make people want to download the higher quality/drm free version illegally?

Posted by nmg196 over 7 years ago
> it is easier to torrent something than to buy from eg. itunes
Of course it's not! Many people will already have looked it up on iTunes on their iPhone to hear the preview. I think clicking the buy button is a lot easier than faffing around on torrent sites, downloading the file, copy it to your music folder, then trying to add it to iTunes and then sync it to your iPhone.
Posted by _jay_uk_ over 7 years ago
Posted by AndrueC about 10 hours ago
The biggest problem I have with downloading is that it's almost impossible to find lossless compressed music legally. I refuse to take a step back in quality after all those years buying CDs.


I second that.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
Even if they made it 1p I still wouldn't buy it from them, the amount of damage the entertainment industry has done to freedoms in this country is almost unforgivable. Removal of the the anti-freedom acts and an apology would be a start.

Freedom to share isn't a problem, copyright is.


Tried FLAC format?
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

Or have music/download folder as the same...

Torrent/Usenet is a far superior system.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago
@nmg196 - ironically I have the opposite issue. I don't have an iPhone and so iTunes doesn't recognise my MP3 player or phone - I have to drag the files and folders into it manually as WMP doesn't detect the Apple files. Which is another irritation with actually trying to do the decent thing and buy the stuff - I don't want it to have to be in "Apple" format or have to use Apple software. Suspect one of the reasons iTunes is so dear is that convenience factor.
Posted by mil1401 over 7 years ago
@AndrueC & _jay_uk_

Almost impossible to find lossless legally?
Look harder ;p

Linn Records


The Classical Shop

Posted by damien001 over 7 years ago
@mil1401 but not from a major provider, itunes, amazon, supermarkets, ect ect
Posted by damien001 over 7 years ago
HMV ect ect
Posted by meldrew over 7 years ago
In the good old days we simply recorded off the radio or TV. Mind you reel-to-reel tape was a bit inconvenient! Nobody I know has yet been prosecuted for recording from the radio and if done over the web the tracks are split up and listed (Nexus or Radio Tracker). i have to say I do like real CDs though. Maybe we could trade in our vinyls for CD at £2 a go? Amazon has some good value stuff if tou look hard enough too.
Posted by Discus over 7 years ago
Since Amazon introduced the 79p singles, I have purchased quite a few tracks that I wouldn't bought otherwise. I think I would definitely buy more if the price came down to a more realistic price.
Posted by mil1401 over 7 years ago

Why would you want to line the pockets of a retailer, when you can get lossless music straight from the artist/label?
Posted by imbsuk over 7 years ago
The majority of labels would never agree to this since they're that greedy and stuck in their ways. Doesn't even have to be so cheap, I'm sure 1.99 or 2.99 would at least feel like you're not being taken for a mug. They should have done this 10 years ago before people were so used to getting everything for free. It's too late. I'd have no qualms with buying a lot of music if it was say 1.99 per album in lossless without any restriction.
Posted by imbsuk over 7 years ago
Also with music the fixed costs are the highest. There wouldn't necessarily be a massive drop in revenue if the volume could be compensated for by the lower price.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

Proof of that is Russian sites which sell stuff at ~5p per track and are very popular.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
@mil1401:Thanks for those links. Unfortunately they don't contain any mainstream pop or rock.

That may mean I miss out on some gems but since I enjoy the kind of pop and rock that makes it into the charts I don't feel the need to experiment.
Posted by pyeomans over 7 years ago
I agree exactly with wha tthe first post says. CD's should have been priced the same as vinyl was all those years ago, instead of the greedy music industry ripping everyone off. They only have themselves to blame for pushing consumers towards piracy.
Simple to rectify, reduce the price of CD's (and DVD's!!!) to a more reasonable price and what the sales increase! Job done.
Posted by roughbeast over 7 years ago
Cyberdoyle reckons it is the convenience of illegal file-sharing, that is part of the attraction. He cites leaving a torrent running overnight knowing that he will have a full album waiting for him in the morning. That convenient eh? With a 50Mb connection the album is ready after making a cup of tea!

He makes a good point though. Would I break the habit of a lifetime if albums were only £1.00. Well yes occasionally, but I rather pay to see the band live. They can get my cash that way. Also now I'm am on a 200Mb download trial I can download 10 discographies while I make a cup of tea!
Posted by beeflin over 7 years ago
I'd pay a quid, yes. About time somebody suggested it.
Posted by m0aur over 7 years ago
Paying for Replay Music, which splits, auto-tags and records anything that comes over the soundcard, was the best £15 I ever spent. Combined with Pandora, Spotify,, Live365 and 50,000 tracks later, I have not needed to spend another penny and no download trail.
Posted by doughnut77 over 7 years ago

I have around 50 Gig of music - all of it BitTorrent'ed for free. The little Devil on my left shoulder makes me do it.

The Angel on my right shoulder says "but what about the poor musicians and their right to earn a decent living through their art?"

When I run this past my Devil he says "98% of these performers are totally crap so mibbe we are squeezing the crap out of the industry by stealing their music. And besides, all the best musicians and artists are dead, so it's no loss to them".

The music industry has been screwing us for decades - now see how they like it...
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
given that half an album or more tends to be rubbish £1 is a more fitting price.
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