so the universal music group are lowering their cd prices by $3 in an attempt to get people to start buying cd's again.
it's a good idea, but it might be a case of too little, too late.
if anyone were asking me (and they're not, actually) i would advise the music business to do the following:
1-come up with a standardized platform for file-sharing that all of the labels would provide music to, but that would be owned by an independent 3rd party source.
something like the apple on-line store. when the record companies try to start their own on-line retail services they invariable become proprietary and greedy. at some point the record labels are going to have to realize that you can't expect people to pay a lot of money for something that they can get for free. so:
a-the price needs to come down
b-the value needs to increase
c-the product has to be easy to acquire.
2-sell cd's at two retail prices, kind of like hard-cover and paperback books. sell your basic cd for $5 or $6 with very minimal packaging, and sell an enhanced cd package for $15 that would include bonus discs and posters and free access to on-line material and discounts on concert tickets, etc. that way the casual consumer can buy a cd without it costing too much and the bigger fan can buy a more exciting and value-filled product for slightly more money.
3-stop spending insane amounts of money making records and videos.
the world doesn't need albums that cost more than $100,000 to make, and the world doesn't need videos that cost more than $50,000 to produce.
how much did it cost to make 'nevermind'? how much did the 'smells like teen spirit' video cost? expensive records and expensive videos are a waste of everyone's time and money. it's just insane that most 3 1/2 minute pop videos cost more than a 50 acre estate in north carolina.
4-stop putting out shitty records. people don't associate music with value because most record labels put out valueless music. and they know it. their goal is to get a single on the radio and then put out a crummy album that will sell on the strength of the single with no thought to artistry or artist development. they don't sign artists based on artistic merit, they sign artists if the artists look and sound like the other artists on radio and mtv, and that's a recipe for long-term musical and corporate disaster. if you consistently make a crummy product then at some point people will lose interest in you and your crummy product, and they certainly won't be willing to pay for your crummy product.
5-stop persecuting people who are music fans. people who engage in file-sharing are people who like music. you can't make people feel guilty about loving and listening to music. the record companies need to see people who engage in file-sharing as music fans and not as criminals. and then they need to try to convince people to spend a little bit of money for music (with added value) rather than downloading it for free.
record companies and rich musicians complaining about file-sharing rings terribly false with most people. i mean, how can a 14 year old who has an allowance of $5 a week feel bad about downloading music produced by multi-millionaire musicians and greedy record companies? the record companies should approach that 14 year old and say, 'hey, it's great that you love music, instead of downloading music for free why don't you try this very inexpensive service that will enable you to listen to a lot of music and also have access to unreleased tracks and ticket discounts and free merchandise?'
the record companies and the riaa have up until this point been like nero, fiddling while rome burned (or george bush, vacationing while the economy implodes...). the record companies are faced with an inescapable fact: the music business has changed and will continue to change. if the record companies can't change with the times then they will very quickly become obsolete.
whether that's a good or bad thing, it really is as simple as that.