The cost of CDs

When I bought my first compact discs, back around '91 or so, I really do seem to recall that most of them could be had for right around 12 bucks or so. I bought the vast majoirty of my library at that price point, then pretty much stopped listening to music entirely for a few years. Recently, I got back into the habit.

And these days, they (it seems–perhaps it’s just my neck of the woods) are usually right around fifteen, and quite often higher.

A few questions that spring to mind as I contemplated this apparent rise.

Is the rise in costs an actual increase, or am I just imagining it through a combination of inflation, memory confabulation, and not seeing the larger markets?

If it is an actual increase, what’s behind it? I see lots of ranting about how it’s just Greedy Record Labels and no other factors, and that’s a story I’m intrigued by, and perhaps interested in subscribing to the newsletter, but such rants always seem a little disconnected from any data (either supporting or falsifying). Is there any data? Does it say yea or nay or “question unclear, ask again”?

What’s the difference between inflation and an “actual increase”?

If you check a musicians’ mag you will find ads for copying companies. The last time I checked the cost/CD was way below the cost of a tape. (This includes case and color inserts.) Note that CDs cost more in stores than tapes.

I can make CD’s one at a time for far less than a dime each. Big music companies can do far better. The jewel case and printing actually represent a significant fraction of manufacturing cost.

The reason CDs are priced so high is because idiots with no common sense still buy them.

Look near the cash registers of a music store, there’s bins of CDs for $3 and $4 (no cutouts, regular stuff). The companies that make those CDs still make money.

The Evil Record Companies™ have started to charge less for newer, less well known bands and have found some surprising interest. The last article I read indicated that at least a third of the top CDs are “discount” CDs. (“Discount”, yeah right.)

The actual manufacturing costs of the CD are a tiny part of the total cost. The artists get a token amount. There’s store overhead and shipping and such. That leaves about $10 of gravy for the recording companies. Some gets spent subsidizing new bands that might not make it, etc., but the bulk is not well accounted for. If the music business were run like normal companies, they would be about $7 max., with sale items going for like $5.99. Unless you wanted the artists to actually make money, then add a buck.

The reason that CD’s cost less to make then tapes is that they are making a lot more CD’s then tapes these days. The more of an itme you make, the less expensive it is per unit cost.

The total cost of a CD these days, and by CD I mean the actual CD itself, the jewel box and the inserts is abour $1, a little more for special packaging.

Those bins of CDs for $3-4 near the registers are essentially cutout CD’s. The biggest label among these is Telarc which puts out classical music, They do a decent job.

The artists get as much as their royalty rate allows. It’s not the record companies fault if the artist doesn’t read the contract closely enough, that’s just the artist beong stupid. Big shock there.

As for $10 being pure gravy for the record companies, not quite. That $10 goes to pay the salaries of everybody who works for the company form the CEO all the way down to the cleaning people.