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

  digital audio insider


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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September 29, 2010

Jeff Bezos Was Right
by David Harrell
Back in July, when announcing the new Kindle lineup, CEO Jeff Bezos said, "At $139, you’re going to have multiple Kindles, not just one."

I'm now living in a two-Kindle house -- my wife and I purchased them as early birthday presents for each other. Previously, we had zero interest in purchasing an e-reader but the price cuts finally made us jump.

However, while I was quick to buy the hardware, I'm not so quick to spring for content for it. My main reason for purchasing a Kindle was all of the public domain material available for it. I was a biology major in college, but I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I've never read the original versions of Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, and The Descent of Man, all available in the Kindle format from And if you're anything of a history buff, there's a virtually endless supply of original works. I loved River of Doubt, the story of Teddy Roosevelt's ill-fated 1913-1914 Brazilian journey, so I was thrilled to find a freebie version of Roosevelt's own account of the adventure.

The Kindle also functions as an extremely rudimentary mp3 player. You can play, pause, and skip songs, but that's about it -- we're talking a sub-iPod Shuffle functionality. It seems like the Kindle could easily provide a more robust music experience, but I'm guessing the minimalist approach was a strategic decision by Amazon to avoid direct comparisons to the iPod. The mp3 function is listed in the "Experimental" portion of the Kindle menu, so maybe there are plans for future improvements...


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September 03, 2010

Digital Downloads: Not Just Competing With Free
by David Harrell
In general, the standard iTunes and Amazon MP3 album prices are less than what you'd pay for physical CDs at most retailers, with the exception of "loss leader" pricing at big box stores. And eMusic prices are even lower. But as many have noted, your best bet for picking up cheap digital music is used CDs.

I was reminded of this when my friend Michael posted a picture and list on Facebook of his sweet haul from Reckless Records in Chicago:

a stack of used CDs

The Assembly - Paranoia Will Destroy Ya $.49
Catherine Wheel - Chrome $.49
Jimi Hendrix - The Ultimate Experience $1.99
Blur - Think Tank $.99
The Juliana Hatfield Three - Become What You Are $.49
S.O.D. - Speak English Or Die $1.99
The Smoking Popes - Get Fired $1.99
The Patsy Cline Story - $1.99
Van Halen - Best of Volume 1 $.99
Black Sabbath - Paranoid $1.99
Kiss - Destroyer $1.99
The White Stripes - Elephant $1.99
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm $1.99
Beck - Sea Change $1.99
Mellow - Another Mellow Spring $.49
Office - A Night At the Ritz - $.99
Go Go's - Greatest $.49
Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits $1.99
R.E.M. - Dead Letter Office $.99
Hole - Live Through This $.99
Primal Scream - Give Out But Don't Give Up $.99
Blur - 13 $.99
Matthew Sweet - In Reverse $.99
Sure, it's crapshoot as to what you'll discover on any given visit to a used CD store (though you can always find this Jesus Jones release), but my guess is that almost all of these titles would reach the top of the Amazon MP3 chart if offered as daily specials at the above prices.


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    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