Music is Cheap as Free

Grooveshark seems to be an on-demand service that will play any song at any time, free of charge. I’m sure there’s some way this company makes money (advertising?) and somehow it’s not illegal for them to just play copyright-protected recordings. This is fascinating for me, the way this works, but I think lots and lots of people simply don’t care. I have a computer, (a half-decent laptop costs about $350) a wireless connection ($50/month) and a wireless router ($80). So with the advent of Grooveshark, all music you can imagine is available instantaneously for an initial investment of $430 with a monthly installment of $50. Of course, laying out $500 for this alone would be idiotic. Of course, the computer with internet access can do an effectively infinite number of additional things, and presumably because of the high initial investment, those other things would have to be valuable as well. But I don’t think it makes sense that BestBuy would even have a CD section anymore, and there are stores that sell only music. How are these things still in existence? One Compact Disc that I might consider buying would contain probably eight minutes of music, on average, and they cost something like ten dollars. Hell, even if you have some problem getting music for free, it only costs 99c to buy each song on iTunes (or any of a number of other digital content providers), so if there were only two songs on a CD that would be worth buying, the expenditure could be only two dollars, rather than ten.

I’d prefer not to get into a debate about how people who can’t afford a computer can afford to buy CDs for ten dollars. BUT… if that’s really the issue, then how can I conclude anything but one or more of the following:

1) People who buy CDs are unaware that the internet makes music either free or significantly inexpensive. These people are ignorant.
2) People would rather pay ten dollars at a time, because ten dollars is not that much money, but five hundred dollars is a lot of money. These people are stupid.
3) People are willing to spend ten dollars on a CD because of the preference for the specificity of the medium, for whatever reason. Perhaps they can’t understand computers or find them inconvenient, or like the plastic cases with the pictures and lyrics in them, or they have an argument about the quality of music being better, perhaps they have a moral objection (like shopping at Maw and Paw”s Tools and Feed instead of Wal-Mart). These people are not buying music, they’re paying the premium for whatever those other things are.

Note: Things on the internet are only free if you have access to the internet, which is not free. They are marginally free for the user.
Note: The advertising revenue stream business model feels innovative, what with Google providing crazy free products (I haven’t ever paid money for any of Google’s stuff)… but magazine publishers are like cable TV, which charge a certain access fee for their materials, but with costs offset by advertising revenue… and nationally broadcast television has always been funded with advertising money.

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