Bundling Downloads With Vinyl

22 Jun 2010

I’d like to see some consumer research on the likely effect of bundling downloads with vinyl.

As a vinyl fan, I’d doubtless buy plenty more if I didn’t have to make a pressurised and often random extrapolation at point of purchase over whether I’m more likely to play the music at home (vinyl) or in the car/at work (CD/download).  And so I would likely spend a fair bit more money on music.

At our last think tank, Pure Groove and Warp made clear their intentions that vinyl buyers should also get the download, and labels like Eskimo have practised this policy for a couple of years.  With Pure Groove moving toward phasing out CDs completely and former HMV MD Steve Knott setting up his own vinyl reissue company, the format is burgeoning, and it would be great to build on this further.

As it currently stands, 2007’s Copyright Tribunal requires a minimum fee per track to be given for publishing, which works out at 30p for a ten track album.  If this extra cost could be treated by retail and distribution as a disbursement, so that margin is not made on it, then it would remain a 30p add-on rather than scaling up to around 75p. Parting with an extra 30p on a purchase of at least £10 is something I’d happily do, and of course this cost would be bundled into the price of the album, so I wouldn’t really notice.

If the research suggests I’m not alone, and that labels might sell more records by bundling the download, this would empower them to make an informed commercial decision about growing their businesses by giving fans what they really want.

Longer term it might pave the way for master rights holders and publishers to make an enlightened decision over whether it really is in anyone’s interests for music fans to have to have to pay extra to get the MP3 with their physical purchase.

Sam Shemtob, MusicTank

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