Procrastination Nation

Things that Robert is thinking about that keep him from accomplishing anything.

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Monday, April 28, 2003
Back in Town
Greetings. Back from Alabama again. No drive-in this time though. Used the time productively to listen to David Cross and Dave Attell again. Review is forthcoming.

In the meantime, I am intrigued by the new Apple "Music Store" featuring $.99 song downloads and legally permissible copying/burning to computers, iPods, and CDs. I'm curious how long the $.99 price will actually last. I understand that artists think of their songs as babies and they don't want to pick favorites, but songs are not created equal. The economist in me sees that some songs are worth more than others, and people will pay accordingly. If REM ever releases another good song people might be willing to pay more than $.99 for it. Maybe as much as $2.99 or something. But, if the song stinks, you might be willing to buy it, but not even at $.99.

I suspect the $.99 price is an intro deal to encourage people to buy their music instead of "stealing" it. If companies initially priced songs differentially, my guess is it would alienate the people they're trying to entice into legal downloads. However, the price can't persist. Only nutty fans or compulsives will want all the songs by an artist from every single album. Rather than get $0.00 for these songs, companies will prefer to take something between $0.00 and $.99.

I wonder if the companies couldn't use existing sales data (they certainly should be able to use the new download data) to estimate a true market price for songs a la the stock market. My friend was telling me that Norah Jones came to town about 18 months ago and played a small theatre to a less than sold out crowd; now, Grammys in tow, she sold out an 18,000 seat arena. People might have paid $.05 for a Norah Jones tune, but as downloads increased, the price could have risen accordingly. I guess it's bound to happen, assuming people decide to switch away from free music.

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