A few weeks after the purported "price cut" by Universal is supposed to have gone into effect, I ask you, dear Reader, "Have you seen any changes?"
I'm having mixed feelings a few weeks after the new pricing has gone into effect - but not because of the price alone, because of the effect it's having on the bonuses that were becoming the norm, it seemed. I've noticed that many discs are being priced at $9.99 at places like Best Buy, but only for the single disc version and only for the first week (after which it bounces back to a "normal" price of about $14.99 from what I've seen,) while the previously free "bonus" discs are now being included in a more expensive package. Two notable new releases that illustrate this: Barenaked Ladies' Everything To Everyone, which has a DVD with 5.1 audio versions of the album tracks plus live acoustic versions of 11 album tracks; and REM's new best-of, which has a disc of b-sides and will sell, at Best Buy, for $15.99 to the single-disc's $9.99 price tag. I have mixed feelings because a few weeks ago these bonus discs would likely have been included free - the cost of the material can't be significantly more, even in the case of the 5.1 mixes on the Barenaked Ladies disc. Now, granted, neither of these artists are on Universal-backed labels, but it shows that something is going on. It looks to me like the other labels are taking advantage of the shelter thrown up by the attention Universal is getting for itself. Maybe the other labels aren't going to drop their prices for the long run, but they have at least realized that the big game is played in the first week a title is out. Unfortunately, they haven't realized that sustained sales will result if they keep those prices low.