Money For Nothin’
“That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it. Get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.”
— Dire Straits, “Money For Nothing”
So I picked up the newest Anthrax album “Worship Music” via iTunes last week. Love it, but I also wanted to get the actual CD — partly for artwork, the booklet with lyrics, and also see the latest goofy photos the band took for the album. Plus it helps boost their revenues and encourages them to make more music.
Today is a Sunday for me, as I worked on Saturday, so while running errands I stopped in at the F.Y.E. store in the mall. It’s about the only music store I know of any more. When I walked in the store, I caught sight of a metal video and the music was pretty good. The band was Straight Line Stitch, and it didn’t hurt that singer Alexis Brown was smokin’ hot and capable of both singing and screaming with the best of them. Any who, I figured while I was there, why not scope out their CD and pick it up as well?
Well, the first snag came when I tried to find the “Worship Music CD.” The store had a fairly large section labelled metal. I happened to be in the lower end of the alphabet and found Straight Line Stitch easily. Price tag: $18. I went over to the A’s for my dose of disease…
And the shelf was bare. Not one single Anthrax CD, save for a single EP of live material. Now I can understand the store not having the new CD if people snagged it up. I can understand not having much stock in a lesser known artist. But this was ANTHRAX, dammit, on of the Big Four! Touring in Sonisphere! Pretty much led the thrash metal genre, and not one fucking disc from their back catalog.
Then I got to thinking, and I whipped out my iPhone, opened up iTunes to see if Straight Line Stitch had the same album there. The answer was yes… for $8. That got me thinking — how much money would the artist make if I bought the physical CD versus a download from iTunes?
I did a little bit of research, and I mean a little bit, but I’ve gleaned the following:
Artists make a fixed percentage per album sold, based in part on the band itself. Certain artists will be able to command a greater income based on their current marketability. However — and this is assuming I have it right — that percentage is based on the value before it gets marked up for retail sale. If the label nets $10 after I buy an $18 CD, then the artist gets $1-2.
If I buy the same album via iTunes, the artist gets almost the same cut. The label actually makes more off the sale — maybe three times as much — which is a shame if the artist isn’t on an indie label or doing it all on their own. The upshot for me is the price tag of about $9-12.
So if the artist is making the same amount of money regardless of the medium I choose, the only questions are these: Do I really want an actual CD, or just the music? Is the $8 hike worth the physical product, given that CD prices have not dropped over the years despite the reduced packaging?