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.

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“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.

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