Remember what lowering the price does to the net profit. Many people think that cutting the price 33% cuts the profit 33%, so a $15 item lowered to $10 would lower profit from $7 to $4.70 (just making up numbers). So you sell 2 CDs instead of one, and you’re ahead of the game.
But this is not true. Cutting the sales price cuts the profit dollars directly, and not as a percentage. So if you make $7 on a $15 dollar CD, and cut the price to $10, your profit drops to $2.
This isn’t a 33% decrease, it’s an 82% decrease, and you have to sell 3 ½ CDs to get the same gross profit as you previously had selling only 1. And that doesn’t count the overhead per item in handling, transaction processing, keeping inventory, etc. So you may find you have to sell 4 CDs just to get the same profit you had, let alone make any additional profit.. Not much incentive there.
And that assumes an almost 50% margin to start with. If you only make $5.50 on each $15 CD, you have to sell 11 CDs at $10 each to make the same money. Your CDs truly have to fly off the shelves to keep you in business.
Granted, this only takes into account the last step in the supply chain and my guess of the profit at that level. But the numbers stay the same if you move through the supply chain. You just spread the losses out over more places.
This is wrong. A CD and cassette don’t have the same content. Even assuming they have the exact same tracks (sometimes they don’t), the CD has higher fidelity, is more resistant to damage, has features such as instant random selection of any track, instant shuffle or programmable play, longer playing times, etc.
Many consumers find at least one of these features to be worth something, and some consumers find all these features to be worth something. Myself, given a choice between a $3 cassette and a $13 CD, I’ll take the CD in nearly every instance.
All this isn’t to say that there is some extra fat in the CD profit. I think the industry as a whole, not to mention the musicians and consumers, would benefit from extra competition, and a general slight lowering of prices. But I don’t think the fat is as easy trim as most people think. And to say that they should just lower their prices by 30% is ignoring the reality of the situation.