Prices on CDs raised to $16.95! But hell hasn’t frozen over. Yet. But wait: there’s a totally cheesy sale on remaining CDs. But only if you act now! FAQ hypocrisy. Artistic worth.
Roger CortonJC Harris seems to have raised the price of his CDs to the industry standard $16.95. And yet–I’ll have to check the weather on my phone–but hell does not appear to be freezing over at the moment.
JCHI assume you’re referring to this:
RCYes. So, the first question is: are you now eating your words? Could it be that your pricing model was, as (cough) some of us have suggested over the years, too damned cheap? Are you, like The Fonz, now ready to say, “I was wrrrrrrrrrrrrron….”
JCHEnough already. I feel bad enough as it is. But there are several factors. First of all to the practicalities. As you know, CD sales are not what they once were. Between the piracy…
RCWhich is currently where?
JCHIt’s prox. a hundred to one.
RCOne HUNDRED? You’re saying that there are ONE HUNDRED illegal downloads of your songs for every purchase?
JCHLast time I paid to have it checked, which was 2013.
JCHIs that what they say in Georgia, nowadays? Moving on. So CD sales are down. As most don’t know, I always had an ultra-sweet deal on distribution. I had a guy I knew back in my dark software developer days who provided fulfillment services for me. When an order was placed, it went directly to him and he picked it, packed it, shipped it and sent me a check. I didn’t have to do anything except keep him supplied with fresh CDs. And he did all that for less than a dollar a unit. That’s less than just the postage if I were mail CDs myself.
RCSo you were getting ‘big company’ fulfillment. That’s a huuuuuuge cost advantage.
JCHYou said it Donald. Well, last month, he canceled the deal we’d had for twelve years. He was losing money on every CD because I’m just not moving enough units.
RCSo no hard feelings.
JCHNot at all, man. I’m lucky it lasted this long. So anyhoo, the upshot is that I now have to do what every other ‘indie’ guy does–fulfill orders myself.
RCWhich is time-consuming and more expensive.
JCHCorrect. The price increase basically gets me back to netting what I did before. The extra six bucks is what it costs to fulfill an order. So my ranting about the ginormous record companies gouging fans still holds true. They coulda sold CDs for $9.95 years ago and not alienated people quite so much. I still believe that is at least a part of what led to their (cough) ‘disruption’.
RCYou don’t think they would have been taken down the same with the web and streaming?
JCHMaybe. But I think it woulda been a lot smoother process. You can’t underestimate the schadenfreude consumers had for record companies’ dying off. That visceral loathing made it a lot easier for people to pirate with such abandon.
RCOK. So you’re making up for increased costs. But is there more to it than that? Many of us have argued with you about the intrinsic value…
JCHThat I devalued my work by pricing too low. Again, maybe. One thing I know for sure now is that people who buy my CDs are not heavily ‘price sensitive’. In other words, they’re not gonna be turned off by the increase.
RCRight. And it was always that way, dude. You left a lot of money on the table over the years by mixing up your populist feelings about record companies with what you do. Classical CDs aren’t $9.95. Serious Jazz CDs aren’t $9.95. The price respects the artist.
JCHI hear ya. By the way, that’s mighty fine rantin’ there pardner. In any case, this ain’t about ‘respect’. It’s about getting some more moolah. (laughs) As I said, even if you’re right, I’m not going to be getting more net income.
RCI get that. But nevertheless, it looks better. Better optics, as politicians would say.
JCHWell, not to cloud your optics, pal, but I’m going to go downmarket now and tell everyone, CLOSEOUT SALE, SALE, SALE!!!!!!!!!
JCHSo, it turns out that I’ve got about a hundred of all the old versions of various albums and I’m going to sell those for $9.95.
RCYou mean, the first generation CDs? If so, you should probably explain to the audience.
JCHIf you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I re-do the various songs with each pressing. So the current pressing of, say, Superpower contains actually the fourth version of most of the songs. Some changes are trivial, but some version changes are pretty dramatic.
RCWe expect nothing less than dramatic. And once someone purchases a CD, they get an account on this web site, so they can check out any version of the song they purchased.
JCHTHAT’S RIGHT, BOB! (laughs) Anyhoo, normally when people purchase a CD, they get the latest pressing. So I always have a few of the old pressings laying around.
RCLast year’s model you might say.
JCHRight. But the funny thing is that a certain number of fans actually prefer the previous versions.
RCYes, I see the ‘love letters’. (laughs). Your fans are not without opinions.
JCHWhat they lack in quantity, they make up for in volume. (laughs) So I figured, why not unload… er… ‘offer’ the old versions for the old price. A clearance sale, so to speak.
RCBut once they purchase the old CD, they can still get an account on the web site and download the latest and greatest versions?
JCHExactamundo. So it’s a win-win… I get to unload the old CDs and the purchaser still gets access to all versions.
RCWell, it’s a good idea. I wish you weren’t quite so forthcoming about the ‘sales’ part of the equation…
JCHYes, yes, the artiste should be above all that stuff. Bollox. I am selling a product. I do need that filthy lucre. I dunno how many people are left doing what I do, but to me it’s important that I do my part to inform people as to the challenges of being a musician in this day and age; actually trying to sell music. Hopefully it doesn’t come off as ‘pooooor me’ when I discuss the mechanics a bit. I’m just telling it like it is.
RCFair enough. So speaking of ‘mechanics’, purchasers won’t notice any difference when placing an order?
JCHActually, there is a bit of an improvement but it ain’t with the albums. I was able to make it a lot easier to purchase and download individual songs. I just stumbled on how to do this while re-jiggering the site to handle the new shipping process under the hood.
RCGood to hear. Now I’m torn with wanting to close with one of your ‘Come And Get It!’ riffs–for the $9.95 remainders. But I don’t want to be crass. I want to keep the artistic tone.
JCHThe irony is that if you were really trying to keep my artistic tone, YOU would do all the barking. Our entire dynamic over the past 6-7 years has been me doing all the shouting while you maintain the quiet reserve. That’s absolutely backwards, mate.
RCYeah, I suppose you’re right. Except that you’re so good at barking.
JCHTouché. Touché. OK, fine. COME AND GET IT! CDs STILL AVAILABLE FOR $9.95. EMAIL FOR DETAILS!
RCWait… you don’t have a special link for the offer? That’s pathetic.
JCHHey, I’m buuussssy. I’ll get to it soon. But for now? Just send us a note and we’ll tell ya how to order the discounted ones.
RCOK. And one last suggestion: you may want to update your FAQs.
JCHWhat a nudge you can be sometimes. I’ve always suspected you had a little Jewish in there somewhere. The whole ‘Oy veh’ thing sounds a bit too natural.