The Riaa Locks Up

2 May 2003

Apple’s new iTunes service has been examined (in depth) on the web. David Pogue, who writes for the New York Times, has an interesting twist on what’s been done so far. [Special Note: If you don’t have (a free) subscription to The New York Times’ online content, take a moment to answer their questions and gain access.] The RIAA will need way too long to study this idea:

Now theres a more disruptive notion. Now that we can buy music by the individual track, should the price depend on the age or profitability of the recording?

If so, why stop there? Why not also factor in how expensive the recording was to make? Surely a solo by an obscure guitar player shouldnt cost the same as one by a 250-piece orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle.

Furthermore, what ever happened to supply and demand? Shouldnt the hottest, most desirable music command the highest prices, and forgotten oldies be listed in a digital bargain bin? After all, nobody minds paying more for new movies at Blockbuster, and less for classics from yesteryear.

Of course, coming up with a formula to determine the value of music wouldnt be a cakewalk. It might start something like this:

((song length x ensemble size) + bands popularity [as determined by the number of hits returned by Google]) / songs age) – minus royalties earned so far

Well, maybe we should let MIT work out the rest. In the meantime, $1 a song is probably as good a price structure as any.

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