Music Pricing: Why 99 Cents?December 15, 2012 6:36 pm
This is from Real Networks’ Rob Glaser:
“Now let me answer your question about why songs cost 99 cents (or 88 cents or 79 cents, but not usually 49 cents). Selling songs legitimately consists of 3 components: the cost of the recording, which we usually pay to the record company (who then pays the artist); “publishing” cost which goes to the company that owns the rights to the musical composition (who pays the song writer); and other costs such as credit card fees, bandwidth, and technical support.
While wholesale prices vary depending on the label, today most labels charge approximately 65-70 cents per song. Publishing costs a fixed rate of about 9 cents per song. And the other costs average a few pennies per song. Thus, as we have made clear, selling every song in our store for 49 cents a song is not sustainable unless/until the labels change their pricing philosophy.
Based on the data we’ve seen, we think, long-term, the pricing that will result in the biggest overall market for music will involve some kind of tiered pricing new mainstream songs for 99 cents retail, and up-and-coming artists and back catalog artists at a lower price.
We are working with the labels to prove this to them. We think over time we will succeed, but it will take time. The more that customers support our efforts both directly (by voting with your wallets) and by communicating directly to the music industry, the better.”