I’ve been ripping a bunch of old CDs and I recently worked my way through my Billie Holiday collection. I noticed that it’s been a long time since I’ve heard her album Billie’s Blues. I used to have it, maybe I lost it or something, it’s been 10 years at least since I saw it. It’s a late-period live album, recorded in Europe, came out on Blue Note. It has some nice versions of songs she didn’t record all that much and has an unusual vibe for a jazz record, lots of reverb in the hall. Her voice is showing some wear during this time, but it’s not all the way gone. Great album cover, right?
So I thought to myself, “I’d like to listen to Billie’s Blues again.” So first I looked to see if I could download it illegally, and I couldn’t find it. Didn’t look too hard, but if it was easily available, I would have grabbed it. I paid $16 or so for it new at one point, I buy a lot of music in general, and she’s been dead since 1959, so I didn’t have a moral issue with downloading this album. But no dice.
So then I looked to see about downloading it from Amazon, and they are selling downloads for $9.49. This is an album recorded 60 years ago. Most likely, everyone involved with it has been dead for a long time. Billie Holiday has been dead for 53 years. It was recorded live, cheaply. If the total cost of recording it was $200 I’d be amazed. And here we are 60 years later and I’m expected to pay $9.49 for digital files. That is the price of five episodes of Homeland, the budgets for each are well into the millions. I would have happily paid $2 or $3 to download Billie’s Blues.
So looked at the used CDs on Amazon, and a great many people are selling the CD for $0.01, plus $2.49 shipping. So in relation to the download, it costs about 25% as much to have a piece of plastic put in an envelope, loaded on a truck, and walked to my front door by a postal carrier. I bought the used CD. And when it arrives, I’m going to rip the files and put the CD on the front stoop for someone to take if they want it. At least I’ll have 320kbs rips.
Crazy world. Someone should sell tickets.