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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
All the lonely houses stand like monuments / To thieves
— Neko Case, Tightly
May 22, 2005
The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz ranks on many critic’s lists as the Best Concert Film Ever. Not one of, but the best.

Having not completely reviewed the genre, I’ll reserve comment. With Martin Scorcese behind the lens, I’m certainly not about to argue it’s video credentials. From an audio perspective, this film contains some of the best music ever recorded, with performances by a stellar group of artists. Where else are you going to find Neil Young with Robbie Robertson and Joni Mitchell singing background vocals. The film captures a moment in time beautifully, and a band - The Band - shutting it down before it slipped into obscurity.

This doesn’t concern me today - what concerns me is economics.

For years, I’ve been meaning to buy the Last Waltz on CD, and haven’t gotten around to it. It’s a 3 CD set (now also availalbe as a 4 CD box set from Rhino) and fairly costly. Despite the killer performances, I just haven’t gotten around to buying it.

Today, I purchased the DVD for a mere $9.99. Does this make sense?

The DVD contains arguably higher quality audio and certainly higher definition audio. The audio is encrypted which makes it much more difficult (but definitely not impossible) for me to get all of it onto my iPod.

Is this the difference? Really? If so, it does a poor job of explaining the years before the DVD was released - the CD’s price has changed little since those days.

In any case, one might expect that the additional royalties required by the film’s production (royalties which wouldn’t be required on CD sales) would raise costs, not lower them.

I suspect that the difference is explained quite simply…the record company values the content differently than the film company. Both have undoubtedly long since recovered the costs associated wiht production, and every sale is now pure profit (with the exception of the rather modest manufacturing costs, of course.)

I suspect that, at the end of the day, there’s not a really rational explanation to anybody who’s not a music or film industry accountant. It just seems…wrong…I got the same content, in a higher quality format, with additional stuff for one third the cost.

The record industry shakes its head over slumping sales, and blames online theft. Maybe a bit more time looking inwards would be well spent.

Posted by skooter at 3:05 PM This entry is filed under Music.

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