Digital Audio Insider -- the economics of music and other digital content

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Digital Audio Insider is David Harrell's blog about the economics of music and other digital content. I write from the perspective of a musican who has self-released four albums with the indie rock band the Layaways.

My personal website has links to my LinkedIn and Google+ pages and you can send e-mail to david [at] thelayaways [dot] com.

If you enjoy this site, please consider downloading a Layaways track or album from iTunes, Amazon MP3, Bandcamp, or eMusic. CDs are available from CD Baby and Amazon.


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December 31, 2007

Digital Audio Insider 2007 Year-End Roundup
by David Harrell
Here's a roundup of the Digital Audio Insider posts that got the most traffic and/or attention/responses/links from other sites in 2007:

By the Numbers: Using Statistics to Quantify Audience Devotion
One thing that music sales figures don't tell you is how much people actually like (and listen to) the music they've acquired. While artists/record companies are initially competing for your attention and dollars, after you've bought the music, they're still competing for your listening time. And it seems likely that success in this competition is the best indicator of the future willingness of an act's audience to buy its music, go to live shows, etc. read the full post

The Digital Pricing Conundrum Part IV: The Loss of Resale
...I'm reluctant to assign a specific dollar amount to the loss of resale premium, in isolation from the other differences between physical CDs and digital downloads. However, for the subset of consumers who truly care about resale, it seems fair to say that digital albums need to be priced approximately three to five dollars below the total cost of the equivalent CD to compensate for the loss of a resale value. (At least for recent, top-selling albums.) read the full post

Going Postal
Despite the growing use of digital downloads by music fans (and the increasingly large role of mp3 blogs in promoting music) the physical CD isn't going away any time soon. Especially for sending your music to reviewers and radio stations. Very few (if any) college radio stations are going to deal with an mp3 download. Nor will print publications.

It's not cheap, and postage is a big part of the overall cost. The cost of mailing a CD (in a jewel case) exceeds that of a manufactured CD itself. And it just got pricier... read the full post

Treatment of Longer Songs by eMusic
...there is a mechanism in the eMusic model that addresses these issues -- to a degree. A reader was kind enough to share eMusic's breakdown of how it counts longer-than-average tracks when computing payouts to labels. read the full post

To Free or Not to Free
That's the question we're trying to answer as we finish our third album -- should we give away a few songs as mp3s (as we did with the first two discs and a freebie Christmas EP) or should we post free mp3 files for all of the tracks on the disc? read the full post

Price Elasticity of Demand for McCartney
It's getting decent reviews, but I was in no rush to buy the new Paul McCartney album, either on CD or as an iTunes download. But when it showed up today in eMusic for the equivalent of $3.25 (based on my 40-downloads-for-$9.99 plan), I didn't think twice about nabbing it. read the full post Owes Me Sixty Cents
...I can't help wondering if is basically selling digital downloads through the mail, at least to a portion of its members. That is, despite warnings in the user agreement, it's easy enough to rip mp3s from every disc before passing it along in the system... read the full post

Thanks to all who read, linked, e-mailed, and commented -- happy 2008!


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    Popular Posts

    A Long Tail Experiment
    By the Numbers: Using Statistics to Quantify Audience Devotion Owes Me Sixty Cents
    An Interview with Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven
    Price Elasticity of Demand for McCartney
    Sony and eMusic: What I Missed

    The Digital Pricing Conundrum series:
    Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four


    Out Now -- "Maybe Next Year" -- The New Holiday Album:

    <a href="">Joy To The World by The Layaways</a>

    "This is a sweet treat, deliciously musical without being overbaked for mass media consumption." -- Hyperbolium

    "Perfect listening to accompany whatever holiday preparations you may be making today." -- Bag of Songs

    O Christmas Tree - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    Away In A Manger - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Bandcamp. Listen to free streams at

    album cover art from The Space Between

    <a href="">Keep It To Yourself by The Layaways</a>

    "...about as melodic and hooky as indie pop can get." -- Absolute Powerpop

    "Their laid-back, '60s era sounds are absolutely delightening." -- 3hive

    "...melodic, garage-influenced shoegaze." -- RCRD LBL

    Where The Conversation Ends - free mp3
    January - free mp3
    Keep It To Yourself - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or CD Baby, stream it at or Napster.

    album cover art from We've Been Lost

    <a href="">Silence by The Layaways</a>

    "The Layaways make fine indie pop. Hushed vocals interweave with understated buzzing guitars. The whole LP is a revelation from the start." -- Lost Music

    "Catchy Guided by Voices-like rockers who lay it on sweetly and sincerely, just like Lionel Richie." -- WRUV Radio

    Silence - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    The Long Night - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    album cover art from More Than Happy

    "These are songs that you want to take home with you, curl up with, hold them close -- and pray that they are still with you when you wake up." -- The Big Takeover

    Let Me In - free mp3
    Ocean Blue - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    More Layaways downloads:

    download the Layaways at eMusic download the Layaways at iTunes

    the layaways website