I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the used CD market and what the future holds for used music. Right now local used CD retailers and online used CD sources are the best deal going. Almost any CD you want can be found for half of the new CD price. Some Computer Audiophile readers are well aware that used CDs from garage sales are often sold for pennies on the dollar. In addition to low prices used CDs offer the buyer more opportunities to try different kinds of music and different artists. Most of us are willing to take a chance on a $5 CD or a box of 100 CDs for $20 rather than pay $13 for a new copy of something that might be really bad. So, what will happen when the majority of people purchase digital downloads only?
The first thing that comes to my mind is people actually selling their downloaded music. As absurd as this sounds I have no doubt it will happen. Can you imagine someone selling 100 GB of music on eBay with free shipping because it is available as an immediate download? It would take a real honest seller to complete the transaction by deleting that 100 GB from their hard drive. In reality the seller is going to keep the music and possibly resell the same 100 GB. Will this flood the market and make used music even cheaper than it is today? Other thanTerms and Conditions, and User Agreements , which few people read and fewer people follow, what will stop this from happening? I can imagine the RIAA lawsuits against eBay and eBay users if selling this music breaks a contract between the original purchaser and the record label. I can see the Internet blogs blowing up if the RIAA, right or wrong, sues people for purchasing music!
Note: I have done extensive research into the Terms and Conditions, and User Agreements of several high resolution download sites. My findings will be published in another article. For now I will use the title of a Pearl Jam song to describe these findings, [it's] "Nothing As It Seems."
In addition to the aforementioned scenario where someone auctions off used music files, there are other implications for the used CD market and consumers If people don't sell their downloaded music. Will there be such a thing as an Out of Print album when physical formats are gone (excluding vinyl)? If so, we are all SOL if nobody is selling a digital "copy" on eBay. With a physical format OOP titles aren't always easy to find but they are available in the form of used CDs. Hopefully digital distribution will lead to the reappearance of OOP albums and they'll all be available with the click of a mouse. Based on the current trend this is unlikely.
I have always been a fan of used goods and believe they allow consumers to sell their current item to pay for something more expensive and allow someone else to get in the game at a cheaper price. In the music world this means selling a bunch of old albums you are ashamed to admit you own. Then in the same store with that new wad of cash you replenish your collection with the latest releases. Is this going to happen in cyberspace now? Who knows. Maybe we'll all be stuck with subscription only services that require us to pay either the music labels, online stores, or even our ISP. If the subscription model is successful for record labels all of my used music thoughts/predictions will be invalidated. Music will only work while you're a subscriber of the service. This literally wipes out all used music sales. Could there be anything worse for consumers than subscription based music sales? Not in my opinion.
When the CD is gone and used stocks dry up there will likely be a hybrid model of everything mentioned above. Internet auctions for GBs worth of music, some OOP titles will be available once again, and subscription services will derail used music sales for certain labels' content. There are many other implications that will come from this new world of used music without a physical format. I am very interested to read what you all have in mind. Feel free to leave a comment and join the discussion.