The cost of LP's and CD's - an observation


Back just before CD's, Albums were usually around $6-8.00, cutout less, double albums a bit more. When CD's first came out they were 'premium' items and cost $10-15.00, slowly the prices for CD's came down and records slowly all went down to a buck or two then disappeared. Now it's reversed, CD's are a few bucks, new Albums are usually around $15 to 25.00. (I didn't figure out the inflation rate, someone else can add that in) . And those cutouts can now be worth a small fortune. I just thought this reversal was interesting. Of course with Streaming, music of any quality is very cheap.


deadhead1000
Of course with streaming music of vinyl quality is unobtainable at any price, I think you meant to say. The great mass of people abandoned the quality of records for the convenience of CD. It has taken a very long time, decades in fact (and is ongoing still), but those who really listen to music naturally gravitate to quality, and that means records. Is it now 15 or 20 years, or more, that records have been the one growth segment in the music industry? I've long since lost count. Or interest. 

If you enjoy music get your records. Records do run out, and unlike digital cannot be replicated to infinity. Its only their sound quality goes to infinity. Given time, price will follow suit.
"Is it now 15 or 20 years, or more, that records have been the one growth segment in the music industry? I've long since lost count. Or interest."

Not much of a business analyst?

These guys may not get it right, but they have analyzed the pattern for sure...

https://www.goldmansachs.com/insights/pages/infographics/music-in-the-air-2020/index.html?cid=sch-pd...
" Now it’s reversed, CD’s are a few bucks"

Where are you buying new cds for a few bucks ? Please provide the link, because some of us that "really listen to music" still listen to cds or other digital media
I enjoy music. Too much great music is not and never will be on "records.'
I enjoy music. Too much great music is not and never will be on "records.’

of course, you have that quite backwards. literally the golden age of both music, and the recording process, came and went prior to digital.

it’s not just that analog is better, but that the recording process served the music and music making, much better then. and the musicians were....more special.

we do have inferior digital copies of many of these recordings, but not nearly enough of them.

few people would want only current music, in substitute for music from that classic period. let alone digital instead of analog. and there are plenty of vinyl versions of current music to keep it interesting. personally i don't want to choose so i have top flight digital. but if i had to choose, i know what it would be.
"literally the golden age of both music, and the recording process, came and went prior to digital....

few people would want only current music, in substitute for music from that classic period."

As much as it is true that even current teenagers listen to Simon and Garfunkel, I would not venture into saying that they think of current music as not being the golden age for the music they like. And they like it, no doubt about it.

Having said that, and in case I have not already thanked you, thanks for that Ferit Odman LP recommendation. It was worth it and I am recommending it to everyone who is willing to pay attention to me. I guess I am preaching coexistence?
"The great mass of people abandoned the quality of records for the convenience of CD. "

In my case, nothing could be further from the truth.  What caused me to pack my bags was the abysmal quality of LP's.  Recall in my college days returning defective LP's over and over.  Remember the ritual trying to guess which LP in the bin had the least tics and pops.  THAT's what drove many of us to CD's.

Ironically, I just hauled out my Project Expression table, Ortofon om super 20e, Bellari vp129, and Sennheiser hd580's.  This all on a Salamander rack with built in goody drawer.  I LIKE the ritual of tinkering with the table, cleaning the LP's.  No doubt the nostalgia factor is operative but I love listening to these LP's all over again.  This affordable gear plays together incredibly well and I get the whole LP thing.

But if I want to demo my system, I would haul out a well engineered CD or SACD.  Not for convenience, but for SQ.  
thank you for the comments about the ’Ferit Odman’ rec. we need more music recorded and played like that. :-)

I would not venture into saying that they think of current music as not being the golden age for the music they like. And they like it, no doubt about it.

well....maybe....but all we have to do is look at the 80’s music to realize how little youth liking the music might matter. in the winds of time it’s like it never happened. time has not been kind to it. i suspect today's music might not be much better.
I distinctly remember new CD's, at their height in the mid-2000s, regularly costing $18.99 or so
Wait a second, 1980s? Has there been a more fun year than 1983 or 1984?
One thing that should be considered is longevity.  CDs backed-up on HD can last forever (can be restored), while LPs will develop over time more noise and pops (that I cannot tolerate).  Of course one can make analog tape copy or digitize LP, but original media cannot be recreated from it.

Also, according to RIAA, copying CDs (for non-commercial use) on Audio CD-Rs is perfectly legal, since royalties are paid (included in the price of Audio CD-R).  CD I copy from my friend doesn't have box/booklet but it cost about $0.25   It is not only the way to save money, but mostly to legally obtain CDs that are impossible to buy.
it’s not just that analog is better, but that the recording process served the music and music making, much better then. and the musicians were....more special.

Imagine: one take, no mix-downs- and all recorded to a standard far in excess of the finest playback systems of the day. Lightning in a bottle. Special, indeed.
Listening recently to:

Baaba Maal: Missing youRokia Traore: Beautiful AfricaMary Halvorson: MeltframeJohn Daversa: CuarentenaKurt Elling: The Questions (studio album)
Jessie Reyez: Being Human in PublicRosalia: Los AngelesBeyonce: Homecoming Live
Not arguing that music in the golden age that @mikelavigne refers to was not beautiful.
But the relatively recent releases I list are skillfully recorded and feature beautiful music.
Does not make sense that human ingenuity in music was restricted to a specific, limited span of decades. Making music is a human feature. Not likely that the human gene pool would change in this short span of time to limit musical ability.
My listing of Beyonce will likely elicit some snickers. But listen to that album. It's a recording of her concert of Coachella. She sings backed by a marching band. Consider how difficult it is arrange pop music for a marching band so that the vocals and other aspects of the music are not drowned by the brass or drums. Consider how difficult it is record. Check out Beyonce's talent and pleasure in playing with English when she raps in moments. Check out the rapid transition between songs, rhythms, and keys. Her singing is not as powerful as Arethra's but still remarkable. The album is a tour-de-force.

no doubt there is 80’s music i like, even love. and plenty we might all agree is beautiful. i own lots of it.

but the 80’s was not a time of huge artistic changes in music, and the best and brightest of a generation were not music makers. they were on Wall Street or writing code. the process of music making was dumbed down and made relatively trivial. pro audio guys in the 80’s were throwing away their reel to reel decks and tube mixing consoles (or were new and never even worked with them so did not appreciate what they could do) and loudness wars reigned supreme. one piece of a recording was made in this town, another in this other town across the country.

Michael Jackson and Madonna were King and Queen. god help us. :-)

your honor, the prosecution rests.

btw; i truly enjoy Michael Jackson’s and Madonna’s music.......but it’s pop stuff.....guilty pleasures. not epic. not even close.

the best of the 80’s mostly started and flourished in the 60’s and 70’s first.
If CDs are recorded in 24/96 or higher. And you have a very high quality dac it'll sound as good as vinyl or better.
+1 havoc, and for a lot less money.
And there were record lovers who 
cleaned their new vinyl, applied “Last” to the pressing before it’s first spin, put in a blank cassette and recorded the music for future 
use.  Putting the album and jackets both in plastic sleeves for pristine copies.
Occasionally I would pull the vinyl out for another listen when in the mood.   
Post removed 
I was kind of like that. Every record would be listened to once as it was dubbed onto the Pioneer RT, usually the whole album and then a few choice cuts that would go onto play lists. But then after that they would only come out for the occasional "serious listening session." 

Now its all "serious listening sessions". They come out all the time!
They may have "started" in the 70's but they made their mark and the bulk of their music in the 80's.  The Police and U2 are very much "epic".  Prince? Doesn't get much more epic than that. Iron Maiden? Many consider Depeche Mode even today a lot more epic than many other groups. REM? .... People will be listening to Jackson for decades, probably Madonna. Whitney Houston not so much.  Others like Bowie reinvented themselves for the era. 
I, and I'm sure like many on this forum, find my music listening is based on my mood. Especially after a work day. Jazz, classic rock, classical, bluegrass, maybe some 80's punk ,etc. But I also find the medium to deliver the music is also based on my mood. Not entirely sure what drives the feeling for vinyl or CD's or streaming because its not based on the genre. I'm not gonna over analyze but it just works.

Also, like wine pairing does anyone pair booze or cocktails with the music they're listening to? Man I started listening to some Ferit Odman based on glupson's comment and sure enough...Whiskey Sour. Perfect with Dameronia With Strings. Classic with a little zip.

And I gotta agree CD's are to be had at the moment. I was lucky enough to stumble into a shop a few months ago and it was all CD's at the front of the house. 5 CD's for 10 bucks. 3 good recordings and 2 so-so but for $2 each how can I complain. And finding a shop like this is like finding a good fishing hole...now back to a whiskey sour and the rest of Ferit.
As much as I prefer my vinyl over digital, I also really enjoy new music. The simple reality is we close ourselves off to TONS of new music by limiting ourselves simply to vinyl, and listening to the same old stuff over and over. The genre’s I like on digital are selections that are MADE for the digital spectrum. Also, the convenience of digital is what it is. For casual listening it’s hard to beat. As much as vinyl has taken off over the last few years, it will never, ever, surpass the digital market. Ever... just the way it is.
@mikelavigne
There were no Loudness Wars in the 1980s, compression was low. We were able to hear compression on CDs vs records, but most people jumped on the CD bandwagon. Perfect sound forever.
And yes, it was the beginning of recording individual artists from different locations to put together a record.

In the 80s, the record labels exerted more power over bands and robbed them blind. If your band wasn’t a supergroup they were at the mercy of the label. The 80’s was perhaps the greatest era for record company profits. Consumers were price gauged with the cost of a CD. It cost the label about $1.50 to manufacture a disc including packaging.

And I remember the price of a CD being raised to $18.99. I believe Tower records initiated this with the record labels. That’s when I stopped buying new discs.

And I remember the price of a CD being raised to $18.99. I believe Tower records initiated this with the record labels. That’s when I stopped buying new discs.
I buy used CDs on Amazon and rip them to HD.  Ripping program can "renew" pretty much all CDs, while used scratched LP cannot be repaired.  That makes cost of CDs way lower.
Currently it seems that good vinyl and many SACDs are about the same price $30 USD. The average cost of an album in 1976 was $5, with inflation, it would be currently $22.87. For me, buying selected cds at regular price runs between $12 - $16 online as there are no decent music outlets here.
Beyonce', really??? Compressed loudness war garbage. And racist too. Screw her. 
How can you be price gouged on a non essential discretionary spend?  MFG cost for intellectual property is meaningless.

Consumers were price gauged with the cost of a CD. It cost the label about $1.50 to manufacture a disc including packaging.

Comparing the music of the last 60 years to "Classical" is a bit disingeous. Music survives due its inherent quality not the quality of its recording.
My question is the hybrid solution to digital "sound" the introduction of tubes in the pathway? 
Vinyl cannot be the end all technology, despite its recent resurgence. Plus not sure most vinyl users get the same experience as those with uber systems. My vintage Thorens needs some upgrades to possibly equal my Tidal experience.
I have been adding to my CD collection by going to thrift shops, flea markets, and bookstores that carry used CD's. It's kind of like treasure hunting. I almost always return with 10 or more jazz CDs from top flight labels like ECM, Verve, Blue Note, etc and rarely pay more than $2-$3 each. Nice thing about CDs is that I have never had one that was unplayable because of condition. 

J.Chip
I have records bought in early eighties as a young man and none of them have developed more pops and clicks, that is a bunch of bull. It is all in how they are stored and cared for....those records are as pristine as when I bought them all those years ago. 
Well I just bought 650 CDs in pristine condition for.30 each Telarc, Sony Classic, Deutch Gramophone, London, recordings of all the classical big guns performed by the big guns.
I Have had a similar event with Jazz CDs picked up 100 CDs at a dollar each from a guy who owned a music store.
All I know the CDs sound great to me. Some day I'll get into streaming not yet I gotta catch the "A train".  
bimmerman 1000% with you, nicely said!

glupson, yes there actually has been a more fun year than 1983 or 1984, that would be 1985 actually:)

Great topic and great discussion. This just personally hit home for me as I just got my hands on an old Pioneer PD-F908 101 disc cd carousel. Back in the day this exact unit is how I listened to music. I needed the carousel as I have a very wide range of taste so multi disc storage and playback is a necessity! after a 15 year hiatus (divorce forced me to sell all my gear) I just got back into it. So I started as close to where I left off as I could (in my current system Dynaudio Audience has been replaced by Evoke, Rotel RMB1095 has been replaced with Simaudio Moon Titan 5 channel). However they don't make carousels anymore. So my cd collection did me no good. Streaming just isn't for me, so I used my iPhone connected to Audioquest Cobalt to try to get "cd quality" sound. It was great sound but not like I remembered. Could the difference be the cd player, could that be what was missing? YES!!! Since connecting this unit it has brought back what was missing! I am smiling like a little boy every time I listen to all my old cd's (and some new ones)! So for me I don't care what any new piece of gear states the only way to get "cd quality" sound is with a cd player!!!
I tried playing vinyl in my car, but every speed bump I hit or hard braking I had to do caused the tonearm to jump around wildly. Never again. CDs only in the car, which makes them much more useful than vinyl. 
I have been buying CD's on that auction site for a few months. It is my observation that CD prices are now slowly ascending. The price of vinyl is pulling them up. Slowly, but surely.
This was my exact thought in Best Buy the other day. When cd’s first came out I was still buying albums due the cost difference. Now it has done a 180 and don’t know why. IMO the industry must feel that us old farts who still have turntables must have money and will just pay up. I will guarantee you that not a single person under the age of 50 is buying albums. This is obvious when you look at the titles they are putting to vinyl. I will continue to look through the bins at the antique shops. Still searching for “eat a peach” in good condition.
Check out this graph sgreg1. A lot of younger people do buy vinyl, but keep in mind this graph is bought at least 1 album, not the total bought.  Over 55 are buying more than ever, perhaps a grasp at youth :-).   The group 45-54 bought less in 2019 than 2018.  This would be the first group who grew up with vinyl, but quickly replaced it early into adulthood. They don't have quite the attachment. Younger buyer are buying, but no real growth.


https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008779/vinyl-record-buyers-us-by-age/


So many CDs were made since 1982 that the ever-increasing amount of used ones has driven down prices as many people switched to the convenience of streaming. Ditto for movie DVDs! I prefer ownership of physical media. And will continue to buy CDs and DVDs at bargain prices.
I do most of my used LP buying on eBay for convenience. In my area (Pasco County, Florida) the Goodwills and thrift shops have sparse collections to hunt through. Not like where I previously lived - Fairfield County, CT (wealthiest part of a wealthy state). I hardly ever buy any new (reissue) LPs. Too expensive!
I shop at a local "antique store" for CDs. They were $2.99 when I first started shopping there (about 3 years ago). Then, they were lowered to $1.99, later 99 cents, now 50 cents. That’s not deflation, just supply and demand. Every thrift store in town, even Goodwill Stores, sells CDs for a dollar!
The decline of CD prices and the rise of LP prices are due to lots of factors but here are a few of them.

CD pricing followed a typical pattern for any new technology. At first they were expensive because manufacturing efficiencies hadn't been fully realized and because they were novel. New techy stuff is expensive at first and then comes down in price.

Besides manufacturing prices coming down there is excess capacity in the CD industry. Excess capacity leads to lower margins and lower prices.

Many catalog CDs have a renegotiated royalty formula to help the record label put out the CD at a lower price to attract sales.

Vinyl LPs were mass produced when CDs were a new thing. The plants were turning out zillions of records often at low quality. I've got hundreds of LPs that I bought in the 70's and 80's that are just awful - noisy, clicks, pops, you name it. I tried returning them a few times only to find that the new copy was just as bad. My experience agrees with corelli - I viewed CDs as a definite improvement in SQ when they came out.

Nowadays Vinyl is the boutique format. The records are made with more care and are of much better quality than they were 50 years ago. LPs cannot be mass produced in the same way as CDs so the manufacturing cost is higher. The surviving pressing plants care about the quality of their records and they understand that if they produce garbage they will destroy their market.

Lastly, the bands and labels consider LPs to be a high margin item. Vinyl sales are often a major source or revenue for modern bands. Money from streaming (unless you are Beyonce) is insignificant. If you buy  LPs from your favorite musicians you are genuinely contributing to their survival.

BTW, I have hundreds of CDs that I bought for under $5. There are lots of places to hunt for cheap CDs with urban record stores being a good place to start.
At least with streaming the artist may see some money. A used CD confers 0 money to the artist.
This is a great time to buy CD’s, at least at the many Goodwill locations here in AZ. Maybe some people donating their collections because they gone to streaming, and I’m sure that in the retirement communities like Sun City they are donated by surviving relatives. Whatever the case, it is an amazing place to get great music of all genres. They have now dropped their prices from $2.29 per CD to $.99. Maybe turnover wasn’t fast enough.
Most CD’s are mint, especially if they are classical. I buy things that I am only vaguely interested in because I can’t leave it behind for the price. I bought three yesterday that would have cost over $110.00 when I checked them out on Amazon for $4.50!
As most of us have streaming (not all I realize) I don't see the advantage of a used CD.  It won't sound better. It is not convenient. The artist sees even less revenue than streaming.  I guess if you are attached to physical media, but I long ago let that go.
I personally do like the physical media, a leftover from my days with record albums growing up. It is also very useful for learning the history of a classical piece from the liner notes, and in other music, there are lyric sheets oftentimes, as well as information about hidden collaborators that you would never have guessed if you hadn't had the liner notes. 
I will never clean, demagnetize or re-sleeve another record not will I clean another stylus. With the right equipment CDs sound amazing, they are easy to store, and require little maintenance..
johnspain, +1
That said, I ruined plenty of CD's by playing them in my car and abusing them back in the days when cars had CD players. No more thankfully. 
Yes, CD's can sound very good with the right gear.
I've been told, here at Audiogon, that vinyl is THE superior format as long as you're willing to go down that long expensive rabbit hole required to play it properly. I have no reason to doubt that but at the same time I have no intention of going down it. I don't need that expense or complication.

I have a modest turntable, a decent cartridge a cheap phonostage and a few albums. I occasionally buy an album on a whim. Rarely listen to them.


I get CD's on eBay. Usually between $3 and $8. I research them on the dynamic range database and buy the best recordings I can find.


These days I mostly stream high res. Easy. Convenient.

But when I hear something really good I find the best CD recording of it that I can find and buy it, rip it and keep the CD. I do the same with books. If its good and worth having I get it in hardback and put it on a shelf. If nothing else I'll leave quite the museum when I'm gone.

As it is, I can access my ripped CD's, Amazon Music and Sonos from my chair with the push of a button.


First CD's I bought in 1984 were $22 each.  I bought 10, plus my first CD player, a Sony CDP-200 for $450.  I was severely price-gouged but was in hog heaven and I didn't care, and I never looked back.  I have zero desire to pay $20-50 for new LP's.  I prefer owning music I love rather than renting it, so streaming remains little more than the new FM for me.
The easy answer is that LPs have become a status product. Status products cost more. CDs are not status products.

I'm glad there are people who still prefer the constraints of LPs and CDs. I sold off most of my CDs and recently found 40+ LPs in the basement I didn't know I still had that according to Discogs look to be worth at least $250 (using the lowest prices) wholesale in bulk. So now I can take those to my local vinyl store and get rid of them. Next step is to get rid of my old turntables that are wasting space. I was amazed to see that my first real turntable is selling for twice what I paid for it decades ago. Twenty years ago I thought I'd just wind up taking it to the dump. Meanwhile, my former CD and Bandcamp collection now resides on one 512GB flash drive and I have millions of albums to stream for ~ $150/yr.
ssmith
... LPs have become a status product. Status products cost more ...
They have ? To whom? Obviously not to you!
I'm glad there are people who still prefer the constraints of LPs and CDs.