Legal Music Download Cost

There’s a simple way to know what is the fair price of music in legal download sites:
Original cd Bitrate:1400 Kbits
MP3 Bitrate: 128 Kbits
CD Price: ±â‚¬15,00
We can see that the music sold on the net has 11 times less quality than the music sold on CD’s (1400/128=10,94).
So, an entire cd on the net should cost 11 times less than a real CD: €15,00/11=€1,36.
BUT, we have to pay to our ISP’s, to buy cd recorders, buy printers and paper for the covers, an each blank cd doesn’t cost less than €0,50! So
€1,36-€0,50=€0,86 for an entire cd download and not €0,99 per song!!!
But, forget the cd, or the RIAA is having an Heart attac by now.
If each CD has ± 14 songs: €1,36/14=€0,097 per song.
So I will only buy online music when it has a cost of €0,10 per song, otherwise, at €0,99 per song: €0,99x14=€13,86, I prefer to buy the cd OR NOT than buy it online!!!

Tiger :smiley:

Just because an uncompressed .wav / CDA file has a 11 times higher bitrate, it does not mean that the quality is “11 times higher”. Modern lossy compression algorithms like mp3 are based on highly sophisticated psychoacoustic models, reducing the bitrate by only eliminating those parts of the song that the human ear cannot hear (e.g. very high frequency signals) or does not perceive to be important. More detailed information about the mp3 compression format can be found here.

I agree with the basic message of your post though: Most of the music sold online nowadays is much too expensive (with the exception of russian sites like But it’s not just the price alone, those stupid DRM mechanisms are even worse.

And if my car can drive twice as fast as another, does not mean it should cost twice as much…

So you realy think that €0,99 per song is a fair price?
I know that here in Portugal we have the lowest average income in Europe, but now I’m realising that this is realy true!!
Comparing an entire CD, if you buy one, you get the music, the cd with a printed label (not the same blank image of CDr on all albums), the covers, maybe a DVD, a Poster, etc…
You say that the difference between a wav and an MP3 is not a big deal!! Well, why is that cd’s are going to be replaced with Super Audio Cd’s and DVD Audio? Appart from the 5.1 Ch Audio from DVD, Super Audio CD’s available (most of them) are only in Stereo, so if labels think that cd quality is not enought, then MP3 bust be worst, i think.
Now, if you want only one song from the album, €0,99 doesn’t seem to be much, but you can also record it from TV or Radio (i don’t think that this is illegal). Is not as good as MP3 but we used to tape it, and on radio the quality is better than on tape.


mp3 quality is poor , if you have a nice stereo , you will listen the diference.
online music only lossless format as ape , flac or apple lossless.

It probably really costs way more than twice that much…

Generalisation without factual basis, that really depends on how the file was compressed, and on the bitrate. You can achieve transparency (= no difference between uncompressed and compressed file to the ear of the listerner) with mp3 if you use VBR encoding (e.g. with LAME), with average bitrates over ~250 kbits latest (preset extreme). Even trained audiophiles with super ears (e.g. like those in the forums) won’t hear the difference then, regardless of the equipement used.

Lossy encoding doesn’t have to mean that full transparency is not possible. Musepack, for example, needs even lower bitrates than mp3 to achieve that. There seems to be a “psychological effect” involved when people say that they do hear a difference: Because they “lost” some information of the file, it has to sound different. But it does not necessarily, since the human ear has its limits.

Umm, that basically confirms what I just wrote. Full transparency is possible with lossy compression as well, it is of course not easy to achieve (depends on the type of music that is going to be compressed, for example, and other factors), and needs a very sophisticated psychoacoustic model. I suggest you read the article yourself first.

Statements like “mp3 quality is poor” are pointless generalisations. And even if you specify it, you still have to confirm it with a so called “double blind test” (read this post for an explanation).

Ok, so MP3 isn’t 11 times worst than CDA, but it’s not equal!
And online music is selling like it’s the same quality than CD, because if you download the entire CD you pay more or less the same if you buy the real CD.
So, witch is a fair price for online Music? €0,99 I’m sure that is a lot for what you get! €0,10 is too cheap?
Remember the law of accountant:
Expensive Things - some people buy it
The same thing but cheaper - more people buy it
If you sell one song at €0,99 you get €0,99
If you sell 10 songs at €0,10 you get €1,00.
Now there’s millions downloads of music on online stores, imagine if the price was €0,10 or €0,20 per song!! Billions of downloads would be achieved. And most people (if not everyone) would abandon illegal download, because at €1,36 per album it realy doesn’t worth the risk of going to jail. :wink:

This is an interesting discussion, especially now that economics is dragged into this (and I happen to have a university degree in economics).

The economic principle is simple, business look for maximum profit.
There are many formulas for calculating the maximum profit, but the main principle is equally simple. You have a market of potential buyers, who each find a certain Use (U) for a product. Each individual is different and is willing to pay a different price for the product. This results in a curve of how many people are willing to buy a certain product with a certain price, this is not a straight line.

At the end of the curve you’ll see that a price drop of 10% will only get you 1% extra buyers and will lower profits (100 times USD 1 = USD 100 profit, 101 times USD 0.90 is only USD 90.90 profit). What would you do in this case? I would stick with the price of USD 1 and settle with 100 customers…the 1 extra customer is not worth USD 9.10 loss of profit.

Next to this principle, there is also the principle of early adopters (linked to the prinicple above). Some people are willing to pay more to be the first of a new thing. These people will often pay for the high research and development cotst, after which the masses can buy the product at a price that is more linked to the direct costs of the product (material/labour etc).

Furthermore, we tend to forget that the internet is not free. Distribution of music cannot be done with a 100% profit, there are costs that need to be taken into account. Such costs include the servers (hardware & software) on which the websites/files are hosted, an administrator to maintain the server, the data traffic(!), the people who helped creating the material (production company, artists (including pruchase and depreciation of musical instruments), recording studio) and what about the marketing (cosmetics…majority of the costs are related to marketing/sponsoring).

Finally, the service of downloading songs was initially intended to be used for single song downloads. Your calculation that a full album of USD 0.99 per song is more expensive that the physical album in the store (including case and printer covers) is correct. This is a trade off you have to make. You have to compare only paying for 2 songs and only spend USD 1.98 or buying the full album at USD 12.98 and only like two songs. By buying only the 2 songs you like, you saved yourself USD 11. This is the reasoning you have to keep in mind.