What should the price of recorded music be?

DJ Cro supporting Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings in Birmingham

One of the problems of recorded music is the issue of price. With mp3s being an essentially infinite and perfectly replicable resource, the market price is a theoretical (and quite often practical) zero. But one strategy to set a price has been to turn this on its head, and introduce scarcity through physical collectibility.

Radiohead did this, you’ll remember, by letting the market decide what the price of the mp3s should be, but setting a premium for the physical box set. This was, I remarked at the time, a pretty good understanding of the difference between the digital and the physical media.

A friend of mine demonstrated this principle pretty well recently, by working with something that was pretty much completely unavailable, but highly sought after – and making it a little bit available in a short run at a premium price and with a great bit of packaging and additional merchandise.