Why Music Should Cost $3.99

“Been working for nine months on something that will sell for 3.99 on Amazon MP3. That’s about the price of a whoopie cushion” Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes

Wow, what a whining baby, Robin Pecknold should get over himself. The same goes for that Sufjan Stevens guy who complains that his albums shouldn’t be priced the same as a Starbucks latte. Where do these musicians get off criticizing lower priced albums? We live in a digital age now and anything can be found online and downloaded. You can even find super top secret government files on Wikileaks for free nowadays.

Musicians are babies. They work hard at a craft their entire lives, learning scales, chords, music theory and how music functions. They put their heart, blood, sweat, and tears into writing songs that they feel reflect not only who they are, but music that describes their community and surroundings. This may be music that has the capacity to touch the hearts and minds of people on a global scale.

Musicians rent elaborate studios with engineers and producers for thousands of dollars to create their works. Sometimes these albums can take months even years to produce and everyone has to get paid. The studio hours are long and vocal takes and instrumental takes can be repeated for hours on end. At the end of the recording process, the music has to be copyrighted and sent through slow government offices full of bureaucratic red tape. At the same time, a pr firm is usually hired for an outrageous and pretentious price, all with the hopes of getting a bit of press coverage at the regional and national levels.

Once the album is released, it has to be promoted. The band or music artist will go on tour for months; dealing with booking agents, tour managers, roadies, bizarre fans and in general oddball personalities. At the end of this long and arduous process, the artist may hope to make back a quarter of what was spent to produce the album. The great thing is you, the consumer, can get all of this for $3.99…or free.

But it shouldn’t stop there. Michelangelo spent four years painting the Sistine Chapel under the commission of Pope Julius II. Wouldn’t it be great if we could buy it on Amazon for $3.99 and then upload it onto YouTube? I wish we could also get the works of Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol for free, stick it all on an iPod and share them with all our friends for the price of nothing. As a matter of fact, this principle can extend past art. When a couple tries for years to get pregnant, when they finally luck up and have a child, we should take that newborn baby’s social security card and sell it online for $3.99 to illegal immigrants. Then we can let the immigrants take copies of the social security card and pass them out to their friends at the work sites. Why not, it would only cost $3.99?

Robin Pecknold is a big baby. He spent his whole life dissecting songs and mastering his craft. He works hard to write beautiful songs that may one day become classic records like his idols’. He goes on tour for months at a time, does countless interviews, all in the hopes that one additional person may be turned onto his sound. But if the music is not priced at the same level as a whoopie cushion or Starbucks latte, why should I purchase it?


9 responses to “Why Music Should Cost $3.99

  1. i don’t know whether to laugh or cry lol

  2. hey Taylor,

    here is a challenge for you!

    Pay for recording, mastering, publicity, advertising and the pressing of 500 lp’s. See how well this release sells for you and then tell the world that albums should only be $3.99.

    take care

    stickfigure recordings

    • I have friends in the recording industry and I understand your sentiments, but I disagree. As an example of my point below, I just saw your comment, visited your site, and realized two things: that Sorry No Ferrari was on your label, and that they had an album released recently. A friend told me about these guys awhile ago, and they’re great. I love that your site allows me to preview the entire album, but to be honest I probably can’t afford that $10 until my next paycheck. No joke. I still can’t help but figure better promotion would get more money out of an album like this than the $10 price tag. Not that its not worth it, but I literally had no idea for the past two or three years that these guys had anything to offer. Sorry.

    • Correction. Had a bit remaining on Itunes credit, and although I hate the quality of Itunes in general, I purchased the album for $7. I hope that you see the bulk of that, as a lot of independent artists I know actually get 100% of their sales back.

  3. You were being sarcastic throughout the whole article right? Meaning that you don’t really think that Albums should be priced in such a way that the artists make, more likely lose, money? It’s a shame, but the only way that artists can get big now is massive touring or huge promotion via labels or people with tons of money for advertising.

  4. Well… not the only way to get big, but I guess make money off of your music, instead of having it be in a commercial or something

  5. I agree whole-heartedly with Taylor. I completely understand that putting thousands upon thousands into the recording, production, and promoting of a record definitely does justify selling albums for $10+, but I also grew up during the digital music revolution (I’m now 28, so I was there for plenty of 56k Napster glory). The facts are fairly simple: people will find a way to download music on the internet. No matter what litigation is passed, no matter how stiff the penalties get (which, in turn, only drive fans to hate the system their favorite labels support), people will share anything they like with anyone they know. It is a tired example, but it remains true, that Radiohead made plenty of money by offering their album to their fans for basically whatever price their fans decided to pay. Yes, they already have millions of fans and dollars and so it is much easier for them to pull this off, but speaking as a long time music fan/consumer/buyer/downloader, I am much more likely to go buy an album I like if I can AFFORD it. You want to cash in on the bands you’re promoting? Spread the word that your label is so awesome that it is selling their music for $3.99. Instead of splitting those profits with Amazon and Best Buy, etc., try advertising on heavy-traffic sites like their’s, and people WILL buy the music. Then, you get ALL the profits, and you have met the very people who make it possible for you to survive (or ultimately decide your demise) halfway, preventing them from stealing the album from friends and at very little cost to themselves. If I could more readily buy $3.99 albums from record label sites, I’d be much more willing to justify skipping that trip to Starbucks, and maybe even buy some merch and be able to see the band live when they come around.

  6. Here’s the deal… Downloading of music for free is not only killing the music industry, but it’s killing the quality of the music itself . With less ability to recoup things like recording costs, more and more musician’s are opting to record at home. In some cases, this can have great results, but let’s face it, most musician’s are not engineers. Also, since they are recording at home they are using drum machines as a matter of convenience. This has lead to a lot of inferior sounding music IMO. The prevalent use of drum machines, aside from taking out the human element, means the arrangements of everything you hear these days is based on a constant beat. There’s no breathing room. Listen to the orchestration of many 60’s & 70’s records, & the drums are used quite differently. Yes they provide the beat, but at times the drums move an entire passage to a different time signature or even act as a lead instrument. They can accentuate vocal hooks or bass guitar patterns in ways that drum machine’s can never emulate.

    What I see happening, even in the underground, is less and less are there bands with any kind of staying power. With so much energy invested & so little reward, more and more musician’s are just giving up.

    When the time comes that there is nothing worth even downloading for free think about how we got there.

  7. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why Music Should Cost $3.99 | Shot From Guns -- Topsy.com

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