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.

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October 18, 2011

Two Quick Thoughts About ReDigi
by David Harrell
A couple things that surprised me about the launch of ReDigi, the platform for buying and selling "used" digital music tracks:

1. No Lawsuits
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that someone is making a strong stand for establishing a "first sale" right for digital goods. (ReDigi's FAQ section makes it clear that the firm believes the first sale doctrine gives it legal cover.) And I've long believed that digital albums are overpriced relative to CDs, given the lack of resale value. But I'm amazed that ReDigi has made it this far without being sued by the major labels or music publishers. As I noted earlier in the year, the user agreements for Amazon MP3 and eMusic prohibit the transfer of purchased music files to other parties. (I couldn't find explicit language in the iTunes user agreement forbidding the transfer of files to another party, but I assume it's in there somewhere.) It seems extremely unlikely that the labels and publishers won't soon file lawsuits. Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe contacted the RIAA, Sony Music, and Warner Music but couldn't get anyone to comment on ReDigi.

2. The Prices
If you're selling a used car with zero miles on the odometer, you'd probably ask for something close to the price of a new one, and there's obviously no wear and tear on a digital file. Yet while the "starting at 59 cents" prices at ReDigi are a healthy discount from a $1.29 or 99-cent download, in many cases you could buy the same tracks "new" for less at eMusic, which has tens of thousands of digital tracks available for 49 cents. I suppose, however, there's only so low ReDigi can go with prices, as it has to charge enough to make selling your digital tracks an attractive option.

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