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$8.70 for a single download? How on earth do they get away with those prices?

A record label specializing in high quality audio charges $$$ for its tracks. But will you get good value for your money?

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The track I am referring to is in the genre of classical music, so that answers the question in two ways. Firstly, the track is quite long at 11 minutes 18 seconds. Secondly, classical music has a perceived air of 'quality' and it wouldn't do to be selling it cheaply.

But if you were foolish enough to buy the whole album track-by-track, then you would find yourself out of pocket to the tune of $52.50! That's a lot of money by anyone's reckoning. There has to be more to this...

And there is. It might not be common knowledge but the classical music record industry is highly competitive. I would hesitate to say 'cut throat' in such refined circles, but if you felt like setting up a record label, then specializing in classical music would probably be one of the most difficult ways to do it.

Since the classical labels compete vigorously against each other, and against their own back catalogs (how many versions of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony must there be?) then simple economics will dictate the prices they can charge. If they ask for too much, people won't buy. If they ask for too little, they won't make a profit and will go bust.

So if Linn Records, which has been in business for a long time, can ask for that much for a download, then the price is justified.

But you could if you wanted have the track for just $3.00. Much better value. How does that work?

Simple, for $3.60 you get the MP3 version of the recording. It's at 320 kilobits per second, so the sound quality is reasonably good. If you want CD-quality, then you can have that for $5.10. Paying the full $8.70 gets you full 'Studio Master' quality - 24-bit/96 kilohertz resolution. Of course, your playback system will have to be up to it.

But rather than buying the album track-by-track, it is much better just to buy the whole thing in one go. It then costs $12.00 for the MP3, which at 320 kbit/s is excellent value. CD-quality is $15.00, Studio Master is $29.00.

Or you can have an old fashioned CD (SACD compatible) for $22.00.

Oh by the way, the album I'm talking about is Rimsky-Korsakov Piano Duos, performed by Artur Pizarro and Vita Panomariovaite. Here's an excerpt (MP3 128 kbit/s) from Sheherezade...

Delightful!

You can buy it here...

By David Mellor Monday March 15, 2010
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