$10 would have been fair about 5 years ago. Now, they better think $5 if they want to stay competitive. Start treating them as disposable and start buying space on every gas station counter. $5 for new releases, $2.99 for classics, like joe blow's greatest -hits and what-not. Also, at those prices and the resulting surge in purchases, you could bet that Wal-Mart and the other big boxes would reverse the trend of phasing out music. I would guess the CD racks size would triple very quickly.
At that price, I would probably buy at the least, a few CD's a week. I appreciate the physical medium, and the inserts, and having a physical backup. Plus, when you make them that cheap, people won't care if they wear it out and buy another one. Not trying to add to the landfills, but let's save the music business and then we can worry about the environment.
After they do that, then the only step is to bring back vinyl. That's where the 19.99 an album comes back in. Unique sound, room for expanded artwork, and old style inserts makes the "value" a much better ratio. This is where bands can get a return on the album investment. There is a reason people love vinyl so much and why not capitalize on that for the whole market. The act of listening to a record is also more ritualistic and far more engaging than "background music", which is mostly what we have now.
The ability to also use different mastering strategies with the various formats would also demonstrate to the listener the increased "value". MP3's would of course be mastered for obstacles like "road noise, etc" ().
The consumer would know that to get the full effect of an album, you need to buy the album for the true "high fidelity". And the best part is you can't send a record through a torrent!
All the above ideas have been culminated from my ideas added to all the comments I've read in Craig's forum over the years regarding the music industry, etc...
If they would just do it, which is a whole other story.
But, just imagine if records hit the mainstream again? New record players and stereo systems to play back on...you could bring back stereo stores! Record stores! Holy cow, this would be more than just the industry...we can save the whole economy! Sock hops! Jukeboxes! Bring back the whole mess and start an economic recovery program.
And imagine what kind of cool new record technology they could cook up these days; demand and investment resulting in new way to reproduce sound in that physical manner. Maybe it would be lasers and titanium records that would last forever and have triple the dynamic range...no reason it isn't feasible and would be inexpensive in light of demand.
I say sometimes progress starts the whole losing sight of the forest for the trees and not realizing that some things are already perfect and shouldn't be abandoned, just for the sake of progress.
Also, bring back singles. 45s, 78s, splits, remixes, whatever. An album is just that and should be approached as such. A lot of times, it's a waste of money to make a whole album if you are dealing with a one hit wonder, ya know?
Yes, this is taking shape in the mp3 market, but the reality is that market was dead when it started. I honestly don't think you can put that cat back in the bag. That generation (as was mentioned over the years) will be conditioned to accept the sharing of music and the truth is, they already are.
But, I did it when I was a kid. But, it was dupping cassettes! I always thought duping a tape for a poor buddy who didn't have cash was doing the right thing. I was spreading music, helping the poor, and gaining obscure bands another fan.
I don't think you can stop the flow of quality jams and I thought that was the point. But, I still believe in IP rights and have always felt that for what I got out of a good album, the price was nothing, and why wouldn't you want to support a band you love? I mean, I grew up on more than a few albums. They shaped me as a person and I still listen to them to this day. I can't even try to quantify a value I get out of a good album. It's priceless, I guess. Even that doesn't sum it up. And to think I got all that for $10!!! That's a deal.
I do understand one has to take inflation into account, by we all know what manufacturing a disc costs. AOL, remember? We're not stupid, and if you sell a 100K copies of a CD at $5 a pop, that's $500K. And how on earth can you not make a profit like that? We know it don't cost much to make an album. A great album can be made for cheap. All you need is talent and some decent gear, and a guy who can put it together. How much did Elvis makes records for? Figure that with whatever you can print up 100K cds for and it looks like a profit to me.
The truth is, you can't figure in million dollar marketing campaign into the cost of making an album. If the music is good, it will sell itself. Only in the case of total prefab crap do you need a media blitz to convince the masses your lame-o dung is cool.
P.S. Perhaps these labels could get off their ass and open the vaults and get all this out of print stuff on the market, while they're at it.
/end I wanna be a record company ceo rant (Maybe Craig can give me a reference.)