secondhand record economics

The harsh realities of the capitalist free market. Or, "Art vs. Commerce, Chapter LXXXII". Despite my fondness for independent record stores, (or should I say CD stores?) their penchant for buying and selling used discs results in some dismayingly harsh realities for artists.

To illustrate the point, let’s consider the following "Buy List" taken from a CD store I’ve occassionally frequented back in Pennsylvania.

This Week’s List — Store will pay $5 for any of the following:

  • The Beatles (ANY titles except Anthology 1)
  • The Rolling Stones (ANY titles except Steel Wheels or Voodoo Lounge)
  • Metallica — ANY
  • Sarah McLachlan — ANY
  • Bob Marley — ANY
  • Frank Zappa — ANY
  • Dave Matthews Band — (all full-length titles except “Under the Table…”)
  • Led Zeppelin — ANY
  • Pink Floyd — ANY
  • Ani Difranco — ANY
  • Sublime — ANY
  • Doors — ANY except greatest hits
  • Bob Dylan — ANY
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan — ANY
  • James Taylor — ANY
  • Jimmy Buffet — ANY except “Songs you know by heart”
  • Van Morrison — ANY
  • Radiohead — ANY
  • Jimi Hendrix — ANY except Band of Gypsys
  • Grateful Dead — ANY except “Skeletons from the closet”

So I found this list particularly amusing… perhaps because of the high number of "classics" or because of the albums which were excepted from certain artists’ oeuvres. The list concludes with a blanket inclusion of "Any Current Billboard Top 40 CD". Oh, and "CDs must be in excellent condition with all original artwork". Perhaps this is an interesting perspective on which current artists will someday because perennial classics.