Why are HD downloads so expensive?

So as we enter the "post physical media" era I am amazed and rather disappointed that the new HD downloads from HDtracks, Linn etc. are so damn expensive.
In most cases these are reissues of old music that has seen the original investments amortized many times over. And now no longer needs to be packaged, shipped warehoused etc.
Yet on average the cost is over $20 per album.
I think this is a huge rip off.
What do you think?
I respectfully disagree..I'm selective on the HD Tracks I purchase, and these albums are so special to me that I'd spend more money if I had to in order to get the higher quality.

Look at it this way, a Burger King dinner and a bottle of undrinkable wine will cost about the same as a high quality download. The dinner will be gone the next hour, but the digital music will out live us.

I have no idea what the business model is for them, but it works for me.
If you find them on torrents they're free.
I don't eat Burger King or drink cheap wine so the analogy is lost on me ;-)
Don't get me wrong, I wish they were cheaper as well but consider this:

Most new Cd's (44.1/16) go for $10-15 new
Most SACD's go for $25-75 new

Most 24/96 hdtracks go for $17.95 with the 24/192 more $$$

All in all the price is fair. Besides if we don't support this media only cd's and mp3 downloads will survive for hard media (let's face it DVD-Audio and SACD's are very limited markets)

Sign up for hdtracks and you become elligible for 15% discounts from time to time to lessen the pain.

While on the subject of hdtracks did anyone notice the upcoming artists for hdtracks? deep purple, talking heads, joni mitchell, chicago and many more!

I personally cannot wait
The price is determined by the record labels that use HDtracks as an online distributor. In fact they had to raise the price at the record label's request a while back, so pricing was more uniform across all labels.

Also I don't think we should be discussing torrents here. HD tracks is what all of us have been waiting for, finally high resolution media. And especially considering what we pay for gear, the cost of high quality media is worth it and provides an incentive for more labels to make their catalogs available.
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Overpriced, big time. $2000 turntable - Okay; $20 for one digital album - not Okay. The fair price would be $1 instead of $20. And cds are not worth anything these days; $3 is a rip-off.
Whether it's fair or unfair, aren't they just charging what the market will bare?
I agree that used CDs can be cheap locally, and the 'Zon often has good prices, as well as servicing good used vendors like goHastings. But 2 bucks used and 10 new is for the most part exceedingly optimistic, if you are looking for particular releases, esp. releases that are relatively obscure or recent. IME, 8 used and 12 new, anyway, for the kind of stuff I buy.

OTOH, HD tracks doesn't seem to have much of the stuff I buy, which is why I've not yet plunged.

I can't believe that people are complaining about price! Isn't this an audiophiles forum?

Go out and put your money where your mouth is and actually support higher quality music by buying from HD tracks!

Oh and stop stealing music through torrents - if it ain't worth paying for nobody is going to continue to provide media in high resolution.

The great thing about HD tracks is that the music is hardware proof - no need to buy an SACD player or a Blu-Ray player as in the case of other media!
I have no idea how the Bro’s at HDtracks come up with their prices. Selling at prices that the markets will bare = “rip off” = crying in your soup. I too wish that HD’s prices were better as I have loved the few that I sampled and purchase. I will probably buy more. I have a choice AFTER I have sampled the quality of the product. A long way from “rip off” IMO. I think more competition in the market will come and be a good thing. I agree with Paul grahm.

“I'm selective on the HD Tracks I purchase, and these albums are so special to me that I'd spend more money if I had to in order to get the higher quality.”

Now give me a Wopper with cheese & a bottle of Rose!
A key question is what the royalty rates are to the artists...musicians/artists/composers are usually on the bottom of the heap when the money dribbles in, and anybody who thinks free downloading is OK is a complete asshat.
I agree Wolf....stealing is just wrong...the end.
As for the royalties..... that's the question.
Assuming the royalty is the same regardless of the medium, then how can HDtracks justify a price that is the same as a 180g vinyl album?
Both need to be marketed, accounted etc so lets call sales, marketing and admin etc a wash.
In the case of the LP you have to make the lacquer etc, make and press the album, print and apply a label, print and make a cover, warehouse the unit, ship the unit and give the retailer his mark up.
Or in the case of downloads...put it on a server and count the money!
So how can this be right? And why should I, as has been said a couple of times here, support these overcharging companies?
I heard that these days artists make most of their money by performing live and don't count much if at all on royalties from downloads and streaming. In fact, some artists allow you to download their music for free from their websites.
Even more reason no to support these HR download sites then isn't it? Sorry but so far no one commenting on here has convinced me that these aren't giant rip offs.
I have been told that it's actually more costly for Netflix to distribute video electronically than to send you the red envelopes. If so, then we could have the same situation here. But cutting out the retail middleman would more than make up for that.

Perhaps it's not the download sites that are setting the prices but the labels, who are trying to manage channel conflict and not kill their retail partners too quickly.
Netflix thing.....I don't dispute that but this is not a streaming service so the analogy is not quite fair.
I think you will find that HDtracks are the ones setting these prices not the labels.
My friend in the industry tells me that his company (very famous jazz label) does not set a retail price for HD downloads....just a minimum resale price to protect other distribution channels.

Willing buyer, willing seller. God Bless America.
Paul...I guess that is the fundamental truth and answer to my question.
Problem is that that attitude will never allow them to break into the mainstream or entice new listeners into HRes audio.
Make the price exclusive and you have an exclusive product.
Seems really short sighted to me...but I'm not conversant with their economic needs so maybe this is the only way it can work for them.
Just count me as one of the unwilling.
I don't think that it is cheap or easy to set up an operation like HDTracks. If it is, compete with them, put them out of business and make a fortune.

If downloads are too expensive for you, stick with your cds. It's OK. You've probably got a bunch of them that you haven't listened to in a long time.

I don't know if you've noticed, but the price of everything is going higher. I could be wrong but I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.
Certainly not if we are going to pay their asking prices. Why don't we not do it at least for a while?
Tomcy6 - I just love the "if you can do better then do it yourself" responses!
What twaddle.
Just where did I even suggest setting up a music distribution service is easy or cheap?
I also don't remember saying I can't afford them. So what's with the go listen to your cd's put down......neither an interesting or stimulating response!
And yeh together with my vinyl collection I've got more than I will ever be able to listen to...but again...hardly the point in this discussion.
Look at my first question mate.
I just asked people why they think HD downloads are the price they are.
You obviously think they're fairly priced. That's a fair response to my question.

Inna...well said.
Actually, "if you can do it better" is an excellent response. You assert that the current price is a huge ripoff, which if true, means there is a large amount of money to be made by competing with HDtracks on a price basis. The fact that there hasn't been a rush of competitors to fill that void implies that the current price charged is not unreasonable and is in-line with standard industry profits. Rather than accusing people of price gouging you should have simply stated that until prices come down you are going to refrain from purchasing the downloads.
Or in the case of downloads...put it on a server and count the money!

Mauidj, That is what I was referring to as implying that distributing hi-res downloads is cheap and easy. It doesn't read that way to you?

Anyway, enjoy the music you have or can buy cheaply. Don't stress out over the latest and greatest. That's been the downfall of many audiophiles.
Tomcy6....fair enough mate.
I took your comments the wrong way.
But rest assured I'm not stressed out by it...rather disappointed and as stated...curious as to the pricing structure.
I guess I still can't understand how a basically non physical format can cost the same as a very complicated physical one.
But as we both said in a round about way I'm not in the business and don't know all the details of the processes involved. Thus my original question.
In a way it still remains unanswered.
Your question has been answered. The fact is that your obnoxious attitude towards companies like HD tracks is probably shared by enough people that it will never become a mass market success and prices will necessarily remain high because volumes remain low!

You get what you pay for, IMHO, HD tracks is not a ripoff!

Although it may seem like a ripoff if you steal your music online!
Shadorne....obnoxious! What the hell does that mean? And why are you making this so personal? Do you work for HDtracks or something?
If they charged less then it would be a bigger success .... or I am I missing something.
If my obnoxious attitude is enough to cripple these companies then they are the ones doing something wrong.
What's with all these hostile posts here. Can't a person have an opinion without all this flaming?
And as for your accusation that I am a thief.... only an idiot would say a thing like that to a complete stranger.

Consider this a very non hostile post....

I was paying about $15 a month for Rhapsody, and buying quite a bit of music from them. The quality of the download doesn't match the quality of my system. Cancelled Rhapsody.

Over the past two years, I spent about $2300 buying music from iTunes. Their download quality was about the same as Rhapsody...I didn't know what a mistake I was making till I put together the system I have now. I don't live near a town that really has a good selection of music for my taste, so I can sit in my office with a highball and shop with HD Tracks, without driving to a store (I live in Lake Tahoe, Reno is an hour drive each way and $35 of gas) or waiting for the postal system to deliver it to me. So, I am willing to pay what HD Tracks offers, and I am thankful I have the choice. Listening to the high quality HD Tracks downloads has made it almost unbearable to listen to my library of the purchased Rhapsody and iTunes downloads. I have looked for any competition HD Tracks has, and I just don't see the selection available.

Peace to you Brother, I do not think you are a thief or obnoxious. However, you may be a Communist.

And as for your accusation that I am a thief.... only an idiot would say a thing like that to a complete stranger.

I stated that it may appear to be a "ripoff" to those who steal music (illegally by downloading it for free from peer to peer and other such digital file sharing tools)

iTunes charges a buck a track for highly compressed lossy audio! So please explain why should HD tracks which has to go to the extra mile to get high resolution 24/96 should match their price or be cheaper?

Or is iTunes a complete ripoff too?

You are the one with the "rant". You want a free ride.

I am simply sticking up for a company in the small niche business of offering higher quality music to audiophiles. I am actually proud to support the better quality music offered by this company (through my purchases) in a world dominated by illegal downloads of compressed crap. I have no affiliation with HD Tracks.
I too am surprised that there is apparently no competition yet. Why is that? It's like an electrical company: take what you are offered or have no electricity. There is a difference of course. However, in some segments of economics there is very little or no open competition.
HD Tracks has done an excellent job of signing up key labels and getting them ro release a lot of good stuff. A newcomer would have to play catch-up on that score.

However, I don't care for the user interface at HD Tracks and as the content grows, it's going to need to change. I hope they are working on it.
I didn''t mean to come off as hostile. Lots of people gripe about stuff here. You can too but you may get some blowback. That's just the way it is.

I think it is probably more expensive for HDTracks to send a hi-res download, which includes the cover and booklet, than it is to get a cd or Lp to you at this time. And many people who have tried downloads prefer them to having a physical jewel case, cd and booklet. You can sit in your listening chair and cruise through your collection, checking out liner notes and covers without getting up. You can probably control the print size too. So a hi-res download may have more intrinsic value than a cd or Lp (just make sure you backup the downloads).

HDTracks is a start up in a very risky business. Most startups fail.

They are the trailblazers. They have to make all the expensive mistakes and buy all the custom made hardware and software and work out all the bugs.

So at this point I say give them the benefit of the doubt. If someone can offer downloads at a cheaper price in the future, we can buy from them.

So if you're in Maui, head down to the beach, take in all that beauty and forget about downloads for a while.
I went to HDTracks to look up some of my favorite Rock music. They don't have squat for a selection. They have ONE Steely Dan album and ONE Moody Blues album for example. No Little Feat, Traffic, ONE Eagles album, no Poco, and on and on.

I don't mind paying their price. Just look at what those Japanese comapnies are charging for audiophile CDs. Upwards of $100-150. But at least they have selection.

If these download sites don't get better selection, they will NEVER get me to forsake my current CD collection.

And I am not investing in a $3000 digital player for the high resolution files for just a few albums.
I agree their selection is not that broad, however it seems recently every few days they are adding more and more mainstream music....for example they just added the Rolling Stones Hot Rocks today. I agree though at $36.98 it is pretty steep for a download. Is it worth it??? I guess it depends on how good the download sounds compared to the CD.
Oh my...I laughed myself off the chair :)
Does it show that bad?
You should see my posts on Macrumors!
Bloody funny mate.....
sorry...i disagree and don't think HD Tracks is a rip off. i will call them "pricy", just like i do a fine steak house or a nice watch. although they are not a bargin, i do think you get what you pay for...for the most part.

HD Tracks is no more a rip off them a BMW or Porsche is. when you buy something none mainstream and "upscale", value does become a valid debate....but it's a personal choice. what's it worth to you?? answers will vary. i've been downloading hi-res for about 1.5 years and have about 40 albums now. very few regrets.

as a side note....i've got a big problem with folks "stealing" music (and anything else for that matter). just don't think it's the right thing to do and in the end...it hurts everyone.
They are so expensive because people pay those prices. If we didn't, they would lower the price, or technologically find a way to make them available at lower cost. Simple Eco 101.

Thanks Neal....I agree.
Levy03.....I don't quite agree with the analogy about the Porsche.
With one of those you can see there are many reasons it costs more than a Ford. If the Ford performed as well as the Porsche would you be happy paying Porsche price knowing the materials, build quality etc are not as good. Of course you wouldn't.
But in the case of HD downloads all you can do is hear a performance difference. That should not cost any more to store, sell and deliver than a track on iTunes. Hell, they don't give you liner notes or cover art on much of the HD downloads! (eg...the stuff you get with a Porsche)

Pricey is a fair way to put it. Worth is in the eye of the buyer.

In the end if people are happy spending the money far be it for my to pass judgement. I just think it's unnecessarily expensive and nothing you supporters say will change my opinion.

Oh and BTW...what about the HD releases that are nothing more than low res copies or worse still....up-samples? That's not a rip off?

Thanks but I'll spend my money on physical media until I see a better value in these HD (sic) downloads.
I'm happy with most of the downloads I've gotten from HD tracks, but I do have one suggestion. Please tell us what new releases are coming up, especially with new recordings. In most (but not all) cases I prefer HD downloads to CD versions. But I find it maddening to be notified that HD tracks is releasing an HD version of a CD I just purchases -- Paul Simon, Wilco, Ray Davies, are just a few examples of music I would have bought in HD download format instead of CD if only I had known they were going to be available the week after the CD release. Maybe I'm missing something and there is some way of finding out about this, but I think there really should be. This would probably ultimately work in HD tracks favor by leading many to to choose their version over the CD. If this happened it might even lead to more HD releases in SACD or other physical formats. I get it that the music industry has decided to try to resell music as many times as possible, but alot of us just don't want multiple copies of new music.
TPY, Are you getting their weekly emails?
Yes. But it usually turns out that the announcements about new releases material coming out in HD come a couple weeks after the CD release (which in the case of Paul Simon & Wilco) I'd already purchased. I'm just saying it would be good to know in advance of release what they're going to be having on offer.
Should it not be atleast somewhat cheaper simply because there is no printing, package or shipping involved? Thats gotta account for a sizeable portion of cost and seeing how not only has those costs been negated so has all cost associated with them. Even something considered "premium" should reflect that savings, now maybe its a few bucks but it shoukd be there.
They are selling less than ever but making more than ever on it.
Yeah, but think of it this way: they're selling you something much closer to the master tapes. You would expect that the price of the master tapes themselves would be even higher, right?
This discussion reminds me of a giclee vs a regular inkjet copy. You're getting more of the artist's intent with the higher resolutions (giclee or 24/96), therefore it's more expensive.
So they're really selling more, in terms of information, not less. I agree of course there should be significant savings because of lack of packaging and shipping.
Or it may simply be that hdtracks has cornered the hi rez market and can charge whatever they think will maximize their profits. Like OPEC.
I for one would rather have a $30 hdtracks album in 24/96 than a $10 CD in 16/44, assuming I had the means to play it back. Surely the extra resolution is worth more.
So I guess what I'm saying is the intrinsic value of the hi rez tracks is much higher than the standard CD content.
I think they're overpriced, but I'm glad they're there. I suspect I would buy more, and spend more, if they were cheaper. As they're priced, they compete with more other things for my disposable income.
Every once in a while someone starts up a thread asking list the best down loads you purchased , inevitably every single one at least I have seen peters out rather quickly in a short period of time ,.
So what's up ,.
For the price of some of those downloads, you could buy a top notch sounding record from better records and truly own something. Something that will actually sound better than any downloaded material. 
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