As I browsed Amazon yesterday for Archers of Loaf albums and that relatively-new Superdrag b-sides album, Changin' Tires on the Road to Ruin, I came across a full-blown rip-off: a used CD copy of Superdrag's Senorita EP for $79.88. Yup, that's $15.98 per song. Checking the site again today, it's still listed, as well as the option to buy the EP on MP3 for a whopping total of $4.95. That got me thinking about a recent SOMB thread discussing how far certain people would go to pay for something rare on CD. In short, a lot has changed -- thankfully -- due to MP3s and file-sharing.
I recall in high school when Metallica's Garage Days Re-Revisted EP and Elektra's reissue of Kill 'Em All with two bonus tracks were prized treasures among my friends. You couldn't hear this stuff anywhere else, and the songs were good. These usually ran for $20-$40 each and were hard to find. Of course, relief came a few years later with the band re-releasing the material (along with new material) in the form of Garage, Inc. But it was Napster (you remember that thing that Lars, Dr. Dre and Filter wanted to be stopped?) that saved our asses even more.
Right before the tipping point with MP3 file-sharing, probably one of my most sought-after albums was Jawbreaker's Dear You. Long out-of-print and doubtful to ever be released on CD again, eBay auctions routinely closed at $50 a pop for a single copy. I ended up paying out of the nose to get a copy from Canada ($27 after taxes, et al), but I had to have a copy. These days, I wouldn't ever consider doing such a thing.
Coupled with all that time when Sam Goody and Musicland carried new, single CDs at $17.99, I'm surprised the music industry got away with highway robbery for so long. But then again, this was the after-market, trading world where music nerds converged. Plenty of people ate well for a while because of this. Now I wonder what they're up to.