Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Gary Giddins has a column in the February 2004 issue of Jazz Times about some of the great re-issues that have come out during the past few months. He singles out Jaki Byard’s Last from Lennie’s as well as Andrew Hill’s Passing Ships and Stan Getz’s Bossa’s and Ballads: The Lost Sessions. I did a quick check on Amazon.com to see what the prices were for these discs – the Byard and Hill list at the full $17.98 price and the Getz is sold at $18.98.

I really think that one of the things that has led to the downloading crisis that the RIAA is involved in is the overpricing of CDs. The cost of making a CD is pretty low, and then while adding in the additional costs of marketing and whatnot bump it up, but not to the level where $17.99 could be considered fair market value. The squeeze is really on with the re-issues of material that has been down the pike before. OK, say I have a vinyl copy of Jazz at Massey Hall that I picked up when I was a kid, then I bought the CD in college because the vinyl was a little overplayed… and now a really nice new edition of the disc is coming out… do I spend $18.99 again on the disc? A lot of the majors make considerable amounts of money recycling their back catalog again and again… no A&R costs, no pesky “artists” or studio time to deal with, and plenty of gullible consumers to fleece!

The thing is that we all really want to support the artists, particularly jazz artists who record for smaller labels and make ends meet on a shoestring. But sometimes I just feel like quoting Johnny Rotten, “Do you ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

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