What's wrong with this picture? (I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore)

I hadn't been to Beatport in a while but one of the searches I tried in the FLACme search engine was "Joy Division" (I just heard a song of theirs on the radio so they were stuck nicely in my head) and the results led to Beatport. While the "Joy Division" results didn't make for as clear an image as James Blake, Beatport offers Unknown Pleasures (Collector's Edition) in .WAV or .AIFF format for $49.28! So I checked around for the CD and found a copy at Insound for $24.98 and you can pick up a copy on eBay for as low as $14.25 including shipping. Hell-o?

I'm really not sure what the music industry is thinking. While I hate to be down on downloads, its very difficult to get excited about what amounts to being overcharged for a damn rental. Let's see—should I pay $8.89 for the new James Blake CD or $19.49 for the lossless download? And the damn CD from Amazon comes with a free MP3 download of the whole damn album while Beatport wants $11.99 for the exact same MP3! Dammit! I don't have as hard a time buying a new album from Bleep.com or Boomkat where the average price is around $10 or $11 since I don't need, nor do I want, the CD. Plus when you add in the shipping costs for a CD they usually come in around the same price.

And what's worse is the music industry has made it clear that they don't think we own the downloads we buy since we can't legally resell them (see the ReDigi case) but we can resell our CDs. Talk about adding insult to injury. Since its simple and free to rip a bit perfect copy of any and every CD on the planet and that takes all of a few minutes time, why would anyone pay $49.28 for a download that becomes worthless in terms of resale value the moment you click "Buy" when you can buy the CD for $24.98 (or less) and resell it when you no longer want it? Beats me.

While I know I just said I prefer to pay for my music, I do not prefer to overpay for my music.

Larry Ho's picture

Rip it and put it somewhere... 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

But they sure are making it difficult.

Cadfael's picture

to my local thrift store and pick through the CDs at $2.99 a pop why should I pay obscene overcharges for a download?

Methinks the producers of the high rez files thinks we be stoopid. They are going to either prevent a legitimate market and encourage piracy or simply ensure that it remains a small niche.

I agree with the desire to be done with rack(s) of never played CDs taking up valuable space.

Regor Ladan's picture

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...Did you hear Lincoln was shot?

Now you get it. I have been hammering the point home that the record companies seem to be trying REAL hard NOT to kill physical media, despite hype about downloads.

Funny, I have been pounding a way for years about the fact they are not making any effort to  make lossless downloads easy to find, cost effective, and the de facto form of consumption.

I continue to buy CDs from Amazon, I pay no shipping because I alwasy order multiple titles, and I can rip it in any format I desire with correct meta data.


Michael Lavorgna's picture

Lincoln was...shot?


Regor Ladan's picture

Yes, I did enjoy it!

Another point is not only should downloads be cheaper, but they should be LESS expensive than the CD counterpart.

No manufacturing, printing, or distribution costs. So where are my savings?

Jon Iverson's picture

"Another point is not only should downloads be cheaper, but they should be LESS expensive than the CD counterpart."


Michael Lavorgna's picture

"Another point is not only should downloads be cheaper, but they should be LESS expensive than the CD counterpart."


hotsoup's picture

I got really excited a few years ago when I was still putting together my 2 channel system, thinking that once I got used to the squeezebox and had all my CD's ripped, that would be it. I'd be done with physical media. Records and CD's? Honey, please! But after a while, and it wasn't an overnight realization, I was tired of looking for digital downloads of what I wanted. The product was either not there, not the right version, only lossless, or over-priced. It also dawned on me that I was one of those fuddy dutties that likes to hold the thing and smell it like a weirdo, so I'm back to discs. Sorry for the rant. But it is kind of a rant-y article though, so I'm only comiserating.

Bob Walters's picture

Same thing happened there.

Publishing industry (with Apple's help) blew out the original $9.99 bestseller pricing from Amazon.

I think that things will perhaps be worse for audio. The record companies know that re-issuing "must-have" recordings to a new format is big business. And relatively predictable business.


beaur's picture

Pricing is out of whack all over the place.  If these companies are recording natively in DSD or hi-res PCM I would suspect that the files require little if any extra processing on top of mastering, which I assume is consistant across file types.  Why then are the DSD/ 192PCM files so much more expensive than say MP3 or ALAC when presumably more work was needed to get to these lower resolution formats?

My default is still the CD as I would rather rip and own 2x the music for the same money.  Given that sometimes you need to be a forensic audiophile to see if what you are downloading is really hi-res I haven't jumped on board the no physical media bus just yet.

Also, this may be sacrilege but who is worry about all this audiophile stuff with hi-res versions of the Rolling Stones?  I am too busy moving and yes sometimes singing along to worry about whether there might be a new instrument in the background!

caseya21's picture

I also think there are anomaly's in every situation. I am not sure why unknown pleasures is 32.78 to begin with seems wrong. Last time I looked into this I am pretty sure beatport said they do not have the final say on what the price is, that it is figured out colaboratively between a label rep and them. I am sure bandwidth has something to do with it, bigger albums more storage moved I dunno. There is a depeche Mode remix album on there for 55 dollars, I don't get that. These must be excluive digital releases to beatport. So no competition equals charge an arm and a leg.

Beatport is continually the most expensive digital download site I know of. it is literally my last spot I check when I am looking. They do have alot of stuff others do not though, probabbly because they are one of if not the most well known. I like you prefer boomkat, bleep, junodownload etc. I rarely purchase hi-res though so the law of diminishing returns doesn't hit me as hard I guess.

Wcwc's picture

If I can find it for less than the CD.

I buy a lot of used CDs since it is a good way to get an album for less than $3. For new releases I listen to the album streamed from MOG. If I like it I see if I can buy the album by download. The only one I was successfully able to find in a lossless format for less than the CD was Brightest Darkest Day by Pyyramids. Most of the others I was unable to find a lossless download or it cost significantly more than the CD.

timorous's picture

It seems the long-established record companies want to desparately hold on to the business model that worked so well in the 1970's. They need to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the 21st century. They just don't get this digital formatting, downloads, value, or providing the content in a format that the customer wants, at a reasonable price.

I think part of the reason that hi-res recordings are more expensive, is that it's a couple of steps closer to the original master recordings, all else being equal. Same as it was with 'audiophile' pressings back in the late 70's.

However, for downloads, now that there's no physical media (disks, packaging, distribution) to account for the bulk of the cost, these downloads should actually be the same or less than the CD. They're just gouging you wherever they can. I suspect as soon as we get to really high speed internet, you won't own any recording, and you can just listen to whatever you want, and create your own playlist, from the Cloud somewhere, at the resolution of your choice.

I think we'll need to get over the idea of 'owning' a recording in the near future. 

Chigo's picture

...you actually do get quite a bit more with a CD than a download. In addition to being able to "hold the thing and smell it like a weirdo" as hotsoup said, the CD actually comes with some things that can be kind of useful (or at least cool from an obsessive collector standpoint) for a lot of music lovers, such as cover art (which downloads may or may not have or may have in varying quality and format), liner notes/lyrics/info about the artist and album, possibly more art inside the booklet, etc. Sure, you can likely go find that stuff online if you are interested, but you often have to seek out and collect it from multiple places, download it, deal with varying degrees of quality/fidelity/accuracy/internet security...why go through all that when it comes with the CD for less than the download? As someone who obsesses over metadata and likes seeing that album art displayed on my server, I appreciate having all that...I like that I can scan in the covers for my CDs if an acceptable quality jpeg can't be found online. It blows my mind that they consistently want to charge us quite a bit more for quite a bit less in a download that's shackled by all kinds of legal/user rights restrictions.

My fear for all of this is that we may eventually find ourselves locked in the worst of both worlds, i.e., that physical media will start to disappear as predicted, while downloads remain expensive, leaving us with fewer reasonably-priced options for lossless music.

Jmilton7043's picture

Aren't we all missing the main point?


My Lord, people...Lincoln got shot!

jeffh's picture

I just can't get past the fact that I still want to own it and hold it in my hand. I I never play any CD I buy anymore . I put them in the CD drive of my VortexBox and rip it to FLAC. Then I grab the liner notes and sit back and listen to the digital rip. If I decide I don't like it, I sell the CD and delete the files from my VortexBox.

MADDOG95's picture

I too have a hard time finding hi-res downloads that I want or are even willing to explore. It seems so inconvenient (in contrast to other comments here) that you would almost think they want it to be difficult.

What happened to the industry standards that were invoked with respects to pressing vinyl then CD's? Why can't the music industry standardize and offer digital copies of their copyrighted property in a consistent manner? Or did they all sign over their rights to Apple and iTunes??? I can't help but think they are overlooking a possible golden stream of revenue. As it is now, we may be the receivers of the golden stream as I feel like I've been pissed on.

And how the hell can a CD cost less than an album download????

I'm frustrated too.

jmillard's picture

Not only is the download of dubious quality, origin and expensive, what about those of us that live outside of an area served by cable or DSL with their high speed internet access?


That describes my situation and I am forced to use Wild Blue for my internet connection and Wild Blue limits the amount of data I can use (plus upload counts along with download) before I have to cough up more money.  To date, I have downloaded 3 albums and the total size is nearly 3 GB.  So, if I were to download 6 more albums I would have used up my data allotment for the entire month and then could not use the internet until the meter is reset.


Then, there is the time involved.  The albums I mention were downloaded at work (with permission and after working hours) because of the supposed speed of the network and still the 3 albums took between an hour and an hour and a half.


Couldn't they offer a physical media as an option?  I burned those albums to a DVD in the high resolution format because I am still just thinking about using my computer as a music server.  Doing that would also involve expense for storage and software and would involve a learning curve that I don't care to do.


OK, rant over.  But, the music industry appears to be made up of greedy morons who care nothing about whether anyone can actually listen to their crushed junk they call music.

marcusavalon's picture

I have had the same problem but in reverse. My main system is still a CD player and although I use digital files on my computers and in the car have not yet made the move over to a digital source I am still watching how things develop.

However I have observed that newer artists tend only to release their music as MP3’s rather than on CD. I wanted to get a CD for a Canadian singer called Dawn Langstroth only to find that its only available as an MP3 download or in MP3, CD format or Studio quality 24 bit 96 HZ from Linn records you cannot buy a CD! Guess what if I pay the same price as a normal CD I can download the artwork as well and print it out and put it in a self-supplied Jewel case.

We are being ripped off for downloads, no packaging, no artwork printing no Jewel case no Physical CD and virtually no distribution costs absolute no brainer for the recording industry must dramatically increase their margin for the same product whilst giving us files that we then have to worry about backing up and have no right to resell. Downloads should be cheaper than CD’s no question but the way things are shaping up I believe we will no longer have a choice.

deckeda's picture

MADDOG95 brings up a salient point here, "What happened to the industry standards that were invoked with respects to pressing vinyl then CD's? Why can't the music industry standardize and offer digital copies of their copyrighted property in a consistent manner?"

Who's known for introducing the 33 1/3rpm record? A record company (Columbia) 45rpm? Another one, RCA.

So you can blame the labels for laziness starting a short time later in the 1960s when a hardware maker (Philips) snuck in the cassette. Or an airplane maker (Lear) for popularizing 8-Track. By the 1970s labels had already handed over any impetus to innovate formats which guaranteed their future. Quadrophonic is a good example here, with encode/decode decisions (and competing formats) left to hardware makers. That lesson went unlearned.

With CDs and then downloads the die had been not only cast but beat all to hell and back. No consistent pricing with downloads because there's "even less product" to provide.

FWIW Amazon normally prices MP3 albums less than new CDs; I think they fundamentally get it ... but a lot of the smaller download shops still don't, and charge as much or nearly so for MP3s as they do for lossless or CDs.