Why its OK to steal from the music industry

I’m the type of person the music industry loves. I buy at least thirty new CD’s a year. I attend at least 10 concerts per year as well. So why am I, along with millions of other music consumers, completely fed up with the music industry?

Lets do a quick review of current state of the industry. CD sales are way down. The music industry is trying to kill Internet radio. The industry has sued over 18,000 customers for downloading.

So last week, I wanted to get tickets to see a concert at the electric factory in Philadelphia. Pete Yorn was playing on Saturday. At $20 a ticket, it seemed like a steal.

Ticketmaster Charges

What the hell are these charges? What convenience am I paying for? The convenience of being screwed by a ticket monopoly in the comfort of my own home? I have to pay $12.40 in convenience fees for $40 worth of tickets? To add insult to injury, there is a $4.85 processing fee. Who the hell did the calculus on the $4.85? It certainly is not the cost of my transaction, its simply another way for Ticketmaster to screw consumers.

So I take one in the backside from Ticketmaster to attend the concert, and this week I get an e-mail from favorite band, Wilco. Now in the past, Wilco has been fairly critical of the music industry establishment. You will often see Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer/guitarist, talking about copyright issues with Larry Lessig, etc in various events. So Wilco has a new CD coming out, and I can preorder it directly from their store, which is run by an outfit called Musictoday.

The music industry has moved towards the bundling concept. Since people feel they are getting screwed with $20 CD’s, the popular trend is to include a t-shirt and price it at $30. Wilco has the CD alone for $18 or the CD+shirt combo at $30. I picked the combo because Wilco always has great high quality shirts. I try to buy from the artist directly when I can, to give them the largest cut of my purchase.

The checkout process moves along, and then the shipping screen comes up.

Wilco Preorder Shipping

The whole point of a preorder is to get the item when its released. The standard shipping rate is an obscene $8.30. I know bulk shipping, an outfit like Musictoday is probably paying $1 – $2 to ship a cd/shirt combo via ground. So I can pay a ripoff shipping fee and receive my CD two weeks after it was released. Thanks Wilco!

The Wilco preorder store has an option for release date shipping. At a cost of $14.35, I can receive my pre-ordered CD on the day of its release! What a novel concept! So if I just decided to buy the CD, it would cost me over $30 to receive it on the release date.

Is it hard to see why the music industry is dying, when any transaction involving the music industry leads to the customer being ripped off?

Pricing is only one aspect of the problems facing the music industry. The last emerging new major genre of music, Grunge, took place 20 years ago. There has never been a time in the musical history of the United States where 20 years went by without a significant new genre of music.