What’s that CD worth to you?

I subscribe to a wonderful internet radio station/music service called Pandora. Basically you seed it with artist names and it creates playlists based on the musical characteristics of that artist. For instance, for one of my stations I started with Ozric Tentacles, and in addition to them it plays relatively similar acts such as Gong, Steve Hillage, perhaps Porcupine Tree, and even more fun, often bands I’ve never before heard of (like Couch, Maserati and Particle).

On my “ambient” channel, a beautiful piece by a German duo called “centrozoon” came up. Even though I usually have Pandora playing in the background, this music was striking enough that I took a break to do a little research. I found the act’s website, and found that I could order the CD that piece was on for US$19.10 (with an additional charge of $4.30 to ship it).

As a musician myself, of course I want to pay for the music I listen to. But this simply struck me as too expensive. I know that on one hand, many people think that buying CDs is entirely passe in itself, but I always like having the artifact that the music is on, for a number of reasons (I can play it anywhere, if my mp3 player is lost, or my system crashes I don’t lose the music, etc.)

In my opinion, this represents a lost opportunity for the artist. I know that even in small batches, it doesn’t cost that much to produce a CD, even with the printing and other charges.

Well, this is obviously just a personal issue, but I can’t help but think that other potential customers might feel the same way.

(Update in 2008) I think I wrote this before the seminal experiment of Radiohead’s where they made their “IN Rainbows” release available on line for whatever people wanted to pay for it!

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