In yet another episode of the digital music war, Amazon seems to be making headway. For the past few days, Amazon has lowered the price of their digital music by 20 cents, bringing their price down to 69 cents per single. These aren’t Beach Boys oldies either. Songs from current pop superstars like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga are being sold at this price. Amazon has been waging a digital music war against iTunes for some time now and appears to be pulling ahead ever so slightly. iTunes offers most singles for 99 cents. Some hits however, like the ones Amazon is selling for 69 cents, are priced at $1.29 on iTunes. People can purchases popular hits of today without breaking the bank on Amazon. Presently, Apple dominates the digital music industry and will probably continue to offer singles in the 99 cent price range. Both Amazon and Apple have been aiming to offer customers digital downloads that can be used across multiple devices with just one purchase.
While Amazon and Apple go head to head, who really stands to lose in this situation? If you guessed the record company and recording artists, then you and I have the same line of thinking. With the fall of Napster and other similar music sharing sites, the music industry just barely made it out alive. The profitability of the music industry began to dwindle about a decade ago. It has yet to return to the viability it had in decades gone by. By monetizing digital downloads, the record companies and artists saw a glimmer of hope when it comes to being compensated for their creativity and work. If prices begin to fall, the industry will again move backwards. The more that Amazon reduces their prices for the consumer, the more likely they will be to decrease the amount of money they are willing to pay the artists, publishers and record companies for licensing.
When I first saw music downloads being offered for 99 cents, I figured that was a fair price. I considered the cost of an entire album, and how much I would save if I just purchased the songs that appealed to me. It never crossed my mind that music could or should be cheaper. If the average album has ten to thirteen singles, I could purchase an album through Amazon for under $9. Entire albums typically cost more than that. The math isn’t that great with iTunes where thirteen downloaded singles could end up costing me almost $17. Either way you look at it, the market is shifting to benefit companies like Amazon and Apple as well as the consumer. These days, recording artist need to focus on diversifying their methods of gaining income. Many artists are depending on digital downloads rather than album sales. Other artists are shifting their focus to live performances, concerts and tours in order to gain additional income. The music industry is odd. You could be an artist with the hottest song on the radio, but still be struggling to make a dollar.