Robert Sandall in Prospect
There is a story doing the rounds in the US that says a lot about the state of the music business. It concerns a young rock band who decided to stop selling their CDs at concerts. Selling CDs has, for many years, been a good way for an act to reclaim the margin that would otherwise have been snaffled by a retailer. But it made no sense to this band once they discovered that by selling CDs for $10 they were cannibalising sales of their $20 T-shirts.
There are two points to note here. First, that a simple garment with a logo stamped across it, probably manufactured for pennies in a third-world sweatshop, now costs twice as much as an album of digitally pristine, highly wrought music recorded in a state of the art western studio. Second, most bands, however successful, now make their money from live work and the merchandising opportunities that go with it, rather than from recordings.