Are $1 albums the answer to music piracy?

In an effort to crack down on Internet piracy, a former music industry executive believes significantly dropping prices down to a lower price point could help spur sales. The opinion has been met with a positive reception from Internet users, but has drawn criticism from others in the music industry.

Rob Dickins, former Warner Music head, said pricing albums as low as £1 could make music albums an impulse purchase among customers. Keeping prices at £5+ or more for digital albums will force consumers to pick between different albums to purchase. The £1 pricing could give customers the option of purchasing both albums — helping combat piracy and increase sales — even though revenue will obviously drop.

Are albums the answer to music piracy?

The news not surprisingly has been met with some criticism from industry executives unwilling to lower prices.


“Rob Dickins is part of the generation of executives who benefited personally from the age of £14 CDs and gave the music business a bad name and so it is ironic to hear him espouse the cause of the £1 album,” said Paul Quirk, Entertainment Retailers Association head, in a statement to Dickens’ recent comments. “Basic arithmetic indicates that this is a non-starter.”

The lower prices will remove a leading incentive to commit piracy, while record labels are still able to control the flow of copyrighted music.

Peer-to-peer piracy remains a significant problem for copyright groups and musicians looking to succeed in a changing music market. A major argument against low-cost digital music has been the idea it would devalue the music, although that idea has been argued upon.

Apple has succeeded with its $0.99 per song sales platform, but other similar music purchase programs have faltered. Services such as Rhapsody offers monthly subscription for unlimited streaming to PCs, smartphones, and other devices — other similar services include Web-based radio, digital music lockers, and music players.

The immediate future for online music is unclear, but CD sales are expected to decline further as more users head to MP3s.