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

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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