Lady Gaga Says $0.99 Albums Make Sense, Especially For Digital

from the understanding-how-this-works dept

You may have heard that Amazon did a deal recently with Lady Gaga, in which it offered up her entire new album for $0.99. While Amazon did have some technical difficulties in making this work, it resulted in some mindless criticism, in places, that Gaga was “devaluing” her own work. We hear this argument all the time, when it comes to free music, as well — where people suggest that giving away music “devalues” the music. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between price and value. Just because something is cheap, it doesn’t mean that the value is diminished.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, where Lady Gaga is asked directly about this issue, she almost seems offended, and notes that, especially when it comes to digital, pricing an album at $0.99 is perfectly reasonable, since it helps spread the music. After being asked if she thought her album was “worth” more than $0.99, she emphatically replied:

“No. I absolutely do not, especially for MP3s and digital music. It?s invisible. it?s in space. If anything, I applaud a company like Amazon for equating the value of digital versus the physical copy, and giving the opportunity to everyone to buy music.”

This isn’t too surprising, given Gaga’s previously stated views on her use of free to get her music out there, as well as her encouragement of people to download unauthorized copies. However, it’s nice to see her make this point again.

Now, to be fair, she also notes that Amazon covered “the difference” with these albums as part of a promotion — meaning that she (well, her label) got more than $0.99, but that’s a separate issue than the whole question of the “perception” from giving away the music at such a low price.

Later in the interview, she makes another point that we’ve been making for a while, which is that record labels certainly make sense for some people, but the exciting thing today is that you don’t “need” the label any more. She points out that she certainly needs her label, which is great, but that many artists don’t need to go that route, saying, “not everybody needs a record label” any more. She also points out that the really valuable thing she’s done is build a really strong connection with her fans, and it’s that kind of authentic connection that makes her audience so valuable. These are all points that plenty of us have been making for years, and it’s great to see such a prominent musician making the same points.

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Comments on “Lady Gaga Says $0.99 Albums Make Sense, Especially For Digital”

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Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Of course she doesn't care

Last I heard, Lady Gaga is one of those artists that has a 360 deal. If I am correct in my understanding, her label is willing to lose a little on recording sales because they get a chunk of EVERYTHING she does.

But it is nice to here her speak out for reasonable priced music. The industry probably wants a million more Gagas ( they just wish they could price her higher ).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Makes complete sense.

I should also make clear that the highest praise you could give me would be to share this as widely as possible, assuming you like it enough to do so. That includes emailing it to others, pointing people to the DocStoc page via social media, or putting it up as a torrent.

Hell, I’d gladly give you explicit written permission to do so…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t see the problem with what she’s been doing. I mean its not like its a public event, or a private event set up by the photographer. Granted what she is asking is a little difficult to control in regards to the thousands in the audience, however it does limit the access granted for up close photography. However the event is a private (purchased access) event, arrange by, and performed by Lady Gaga (by Lady Gaga in this statement I mean her, her producers, and her support staff). They arrange the lighting, they arrange the costumes, they arrange the poses, and yet a unrelated photographer has the right to snap a picture and claim rights to the picture even though all of the creative work is done by Lady Gaga and her crew?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This exact attitude is one of the recurring problems in these debates. You say ALL of the creative work is done by someone else, but that seems to devalue the photographer’s role. It can be very difficult to get that perfect frozen moment in time and a good photographer knows how to capture that, and it certainly can be hard work. I am sure the photographer thinks that the PHOTOGRAPHER does all of the work, and would exclude Lady Gaga and her crew. That doesn?t seem fair either. So many people seem to overvalue the work of one party ( usually themselves) and undervalue the work of another. Maybe it would make more sense to SHARE the credit for the creative work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

While Lady Gaga?s attitude on labels may seem forward looking and her attitude toward these photographers may seem draconian and thus opposite, both may be related to an underlying idea ? the idea that some artists have no need for labels and that some artists also have no need for photographers. Artists can do it all on their own now. Or at least some can.

Anonymous Coward says:

She sold more than a million copies of her latest album, and I doubt very highly that more than a small percentage were sold at a low price. She can talk all she wants, but the reality is that her albums are priced like everyone else’s.

The only difference? She’s a total media whore and knows how to get coverage everywhere, including here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I doubt very highly that more than a small percentage were sold at a low price. I suspect that would be a special, a limited number, a limited time, etc. Basically, most people would have paid a price in the range of $15 for the same thing.

You would want the low price point, but I doubt very many people actually got it.

Joel Coehoorn says:

Value vs Price vs Worth

Price vs Value is something mentioned frequently here. I’d like to replace “value” with the new term “Worth”, and use its to come to a better understanding of how all three work together in a way that helps explain what’s going on with digital goods.

Now, we can define “Worth” as the total benefit (including both monetary and other benefits) to an individual or society. Clearly, cultural works like music, art, and film have great worth to our society.

Price is, of course, separate from Worth. In fact, Price for a work should _always_ be less than the Worth of a good (but perhaps somewhat more than it cost to produce). If a good were not worth at least the price, no one would buy it.

From the perspective of the consumer, “Value”, then, is the difference between Worth and Price. The greater the difference, the more Valuable the good is to the consumer.

I say all this because it speaks directly to the idea the a low price for an album devalues it. In fact, we see here that the opposite is true: lowering the price of an album _increases_ the value created from the work.

hank says:

HIGH prices that devalue products

When you set a price tag on an infinitely reproducible collection of bits, You are essentially removing any potential value from the product in the eyes of the consumer, making it undesirable because of it’s unnatural price. It’s HIGH prices that devalue products, not low ones.

zegota (profile) says:

Re: HIGH prices that devalue products

So you’re essentially saying that selling digital goods for ANY price makes it worthless? This is very much the opposite of true, or at the very least, not true for everyone. Many people, myself included, are perfectly comfortable paying for mp3s. Now obviously there DO need to be price considerations, but saying “charging makes it worthless” is silly.

zegota (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: HIGH prices that devalue products

Do you have any evidence to support this, or are you just talking out your ass? For instance, the fact that tons of people buy digital mp3s and ebooks seem to suggest that a pricetag does not, in fact, make digital goods “worthless,” at least to many people.

Unless you’re trying to argue that they’re worthless because you can’t resell them, which is a hilariously poor argument, as people have paid for unresellable services since the beginning of time.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 HIGH prices that devalue products

Technically speaking, they are ‘priceless’, as in, they have no price. This is not the same as having no value. The value can often be in the way the product intersects.

As an example, I’ll use Good Old Games. They sell older videogames and try and ensure compatibility with modern tech. Now, for most of these games, there is no DRM. However, there is a premium, and the items are all in one place. The value here is convenience.

hank says:

Re: Re: Re:2 HIGH prices that devalue products

OK, sure. check out the above poster’s comment on value v. worth v. price, value should be what satisfaction you experience paying for an item, worth should be what it means to you and how you can exploit it, price is what is set by the seller. In an era where a digital network reduces the price and worth to just north of zero, crazy things happen in the calculation of value, you can still exploit infinite value from a priceless item, it’s not anything new, radio figured this out 50 years ago. look at craigslist, 99.99% of their “product” is free, but it has tremendous value, they still manage to PRINT money. every album gaga gives away for free, increases the value of the concert ticket, which in not infinitely reproducible, therefore increasing the demand in the marketplace, and affecting the price.

Jeni (profile) says:

Good Gaga

Well, while she looks ridiculous to these tired middle aged eyes, and that name! But the girl’s got some brains under her fluff.

Had to laugh at the idiot interviewing her; he sounded so appalled at the 99 cent deal. LOL

To me her music has zero value as I’ve only just heard of her about 2 weeks ago and am not at all interested (yeah, I know, never mind…) but more power to her. May she never travel the path of Brittany Spears.

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