It’s really Bad Karma to buy music on Amazon…please stop! I’ll give you a free T-Shirt!

I’m really bothered about and the $3.99 album deals they do. I feel it’s ruining what’s left of the independent Record Stores and when I see some of my favorite artists get involved and promote this, it really makes me scratch my head.

It’s not the record store’s fault that people stopped buying CD’s. It’s the labels that caused that years back, they are the ones who made CD’s an $18.98 list price although it cost them half of what it cost to produce vinyl or cassette. and also that price was even more than Hollywood was charging for movies on DVD!.

It’s the labels who not only gave discounts to the big chains but also gave them exclusive content to drive people away from the independent store into the big box stores. I mean why buy a CD at the little guy for say $12 or $13 when you could go to the big box store and get that CD for $9.99 with added tracks?

It wasn’t Itunes fault that people downloaded music, all Itunes did was normalize the rampantness of illegal downloading and made people pay for things they were used to stealing. The labels, because they didn’t think anyone would pay for music anymore, gave itunes a favorable deal.  Once Itunes proved that people would pay; the labels panicked and started wheeling and dealing with other online entities like Amazon, and that to me is a huge problem…

Itunes proved people would pay .99 for a song and 9.99 for an album, which ironically was the price we were all used to paying for singles and albums before the labels got greedy with the cd price extortion.

So there was a model in place.  People were downloading and paying, people were still buying physical product albeit less of it, but still buying it.

So what happens? Do the labels and all involved improve on this new model? Of course not. Do they make a blanket same cost for all online stores? Meaning itunes and Amazon etc have the same album prices? Of course not. Do they make a blanket cost for all physical product? So your corner record store and best buy have the same prices? So that the music consumer sees a value in the music…no matter where they get it from? Of course not, that would be too easy.

They blow the whole thing up, they post things on youtube (where with a simple program, anyone can rip the audio and have it for free) or stream entire albums on label and artist websites (where again with a simple program, anyone can record the entire album for free). At that point, is it stealing; if the label and artists offer it for free? Probably not. So now the music is devalued once again and then comes the whopper;  for the population that missed out on the free stream, or didn’t get around to buying it for the $9.99 on itunes or even at a store yet, comes the email or the tweet from the artist or label’s mailing list letting you know Amazon has the album for $3.99!!!

With this sort of thing, it’s no wonder no one’s buying music!  What incentive is there to go into a record store at all? Just wait and get for $3.99, if you hadn’t gotten it for free yet.

I must admit it’s infuriating to me as a music fan and buyer. Yes, I still buy music, although I can legally get any album I want for free as a DJ, I still buy the music I want. Do labels and bands send me cd’s they hope I’d play, of course they do and they should because some of it are possibly things I wasn’t planning on buying or maybe a new artist not on my radar yet; and besides that’s promotional inventory with the hope that if I play something it would generate sales of the music or sell tix to their show when they are in town.

Social Distortion are one of my favorite bands, I see them in concert 2 to 3 times on each tour they do. I have a nice collection of “skully” t shirts and I buy all they put out on CD and vinyl, just as I did on Tuesday when “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” came out (which by the way may be their best album to date) , I grabbed both the cd and vinyl 2 LP set at a local indie store. I love the artwork and the lyrics, I love the poster that came with the cd, the colored vinyl on the record and the additional vinyl tracks. I then became disheartened to see that Social D is partaking in one of these Amazon sales, as well as their great label Epitaph. The deal was that if you stream the entire album start to finish, it will eventually lower the price on Amazon, based on how many full streams there are…maybe a slight twist on the Radiohead model, but why do this for Amazon? Why not have it be a coupon for your local indie store? $2, $3. $5 off or what not, and it doesn’t count that there was a cd single with a coupon in it because that only reached the people already shopping those stores, why not tie the stream incentive idea to the indie store…these are the people that need the foot traffic, not Amazon that’s selling toasters too, and is running a virtual store, while the indie record store has to pay rent, employees, utilities etc. It’s good Karma, please go to your record store. And the first 10 people that send me a receipt from an indie record store showing the purchase of the new Social Distortion album, I will send you a free anything anything t-shirt. My Email address is

  • Kelly K

    thank god someone gives a shit about record stores! you rock dude

  • James

    i just friggin love how every time you click on the amazon highlights in the blog it directs you to an independent record store site..i do feel guilty for downloading the new cage the elephant cd for free, i feel i now need to go buy something somewhere later…

  • Fred Norris

    Rich, as you know I couldnt agree more. In regards to Social D, I bought the vinyl and cd from Social D's site. In most cases, I buy vinyl if it is released in that format, If it doesnt come with a cd as well, I'll in many cases buy the cd too, all from indies. In the event Best Buy or Target is offering something extremely unique (bonus tracks that are attractive and not just bullshit filler) I may purchase from there. I urge people to support the indie shops. Become a regular and they will usually treat you well and make some great recommendations. A good relationship with the indie shop pays off big time too when there are limited offerings (ala record store days). I've had the benefit of snagging some rare stuff as it was put aside for me being a loyal supporter. Am I paying on average 4-5 bucks more than the big box $9.99?….yes, but that price to me includes a good relationship with usually very knowledgeable people who care about music and offer some unique insight and recommendations. So in regards to receipts Mr Russo….I could fill many envelops for you from the several indie shops here in Atl. I'd proudly where a T-shirt if it found my mailbox. Oh, and the other cool things about the indies….in-store appearances….like the Rebirth Brass Band today at Criminal in Atlanta….and the upcoming pre-show appearance by Alejandro at Decatur CD. Rock on people…and put the needle on the record.

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