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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

CD...dead or dying?

So I'm trying to clean house and lose a couple hundred CDs I really don't need anymore. In the past I've had pretty good luck selling stuff through Amazon and even after their high seller fees, I've still done alright for myself.

The key is, there's a certain dollar amount you really can't dip below because if you do, by the time Amazon takes their cut, you pay for postage and packaging and you factor in time and travel, you've made nothing. Unfortunately, the average CD price on Amazon and is just about at the point where it's not worth putting them up there.

For every five CDs I'd look at, one might average at about $7, which would be about $5 in pocket after all the expenses I listed above. The other four would be somewhere around $4 or less with multiple copies available. Many were hovering around $2 or less, at which point you're pretty much losing money and I don't understand how people see stuff that cheap at Amazon.

Selling on Amazon has always seemed like a race to the bottom with regards to seller's prices. It seemed like if I didn't sell something in the first week or two, someone would undercut me, and then be undercut, etc., etc. But at least you had a chance of selling your stuff at a decent price as the market wasn't totally glutted.

Now, it's really a buyer's market. Almost any album you can think of have multiple copies for sale for pretty much whatever you want to pay. In many instances, there are a dozen or more used copies for sale within a week of an album's release date. (Most of these are promo copies and god knows I've sold tons of these myself.)

So, what's my point with all this? Well, there's a lot of talk, on-line anyway, about how much longer the CD has left as a viable medium. It's really hard to say. There's still a lot of people who aren't into downloading music (legally or not) for various reasons. Until recently, I was among those people. However, the fact that I do so much of my listening on computers and mp3 players and the fact that I have more CDs than I know what to do with has caused me to try to stop worrying and learn to love the mp3.

I've heard stories of people ripping their CD collections and then disposing of them and that certainly seems to be what I'm seeing on Amazon and half. And, I have to admit, the temptation to do just that is starting to get to me too.

I think what we're seeing is, consumers are already abandoning the CD even if the recording industry is still putting them out. There is a glut of used CDs that just wasn't there a few years ago and though I don't have facts and figures to back it up, I can't see that being a product of anything other than people ripping and abandoning.

As a consumer, it's a great thing but as someone wanting to clear some stuff out I don't listen to anymore, it's a bit disheartening. I used to be able to at least get half what I paid for a disc back, but now it seems I'd be lucky to get a quarter. And with that in mind, I'm finding myself much more careful about what I'm buying.

And I hate to sound fatalist, but I just don't see this getting any better. There's already a huge difference on the secondhand market from just a year ago, it's almost unbelievable.

Though I'm not a fan of the recording industry, I do still like the option for having a physical copy of music in an uncompressed format. I still enjoy sleeve notes and cover art. I like having something to look at while I listen to the music.

One thing I am really happy about is, not only are more people putting out actual records, but more companies are offering free downloads of the album with a purchase. Beggar's Group, Sub Pop and even some major label stuff is doing this. To me, this is both ideal and a best of both worlds situation.

The other thing I'm noticing, and this is kind of ironic, is that is seems that I'm listening to more music than ever before. And I don't think I'm in the minority. Most people I know aren't buying as many CDs but always have music with them, on their computers, cell phones or iPods. Though the physical medium for delivery is becoming obsolete, the music itself is becoming more ubiquitous.

Well, I've done a lot of thinking out loud here, but the bottom line is, I'm still not sure if the CD is dead or dying or if that's even a bad thing. I do know if anyone wants to buy some cheap CDs, I'll be having a garage sale in a few weeks and I'm willing to cut some good deals.

Now playing: Russ Freeman - Bread And Wine
via FoxyTunes

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