Recording industry appears to have learned from mistakes

With the epidemic of pirated music downloads apparently hurting sales, Universal Music Group has taken the welcome step of reducing the manufacturer suggested retail price of its CDs from the familiar $16.98 to a more affordable $12.98. Cassette prices will also be dropped to $8.98.

UMG is implementing the reductions in hopes of getting music fans back into the stores and away from their computers. It’s just too bad it took the music industry so long to realize that people resent paying through the nose for a product that other people are illegally downloading for free.

UMG is responsible for some classic artists such as Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, and the Jackson Five, as well as more contemporary artists like Eminem, blink-182 and No Doubt, to name a few. Some of its bigger labels include Motown, Interscope and Mercury records.

“UMG is responsible for almost 30 percent of all album sales in the United States,” said Doug Morris, chairman and CEO for UMG. “We are uniquely positioned to try this new strategy.”

The reduction will directly benefit consumers, as it is anticipated that many competitive music companies will be forced to follow suit and drop the prices of their MSRPs as well.

“It’s a massively bold move; it’s the kind of move we as an industry need to be making,” an anonymous executive at a competing label said to the Wall Street Journal.

It may be bold, but it is also common sense. With all of the press surrounding the pirating of MP3s, many consumers have done without new music altogether rather than paying ridiculous prices or face lawsuits for illegally downloading files.

The music industry has been claiming for years that the pirating of music has been cutting into sales and has gone to enormous lengths to curtail this practice, but compared to the hassle and time of downloading music files, an affordable CD appears a far more attractive proposition.

The price reduction is not the only attempt being made to cut down on piracy. Since the digital music trend does not seem to be ending, certain companies have started to charge consumer-friendly prices for downloaded music. Apple started selling downloadable music files for 99 cents back in April through the iTunes Music Store, and it reportedly sold approximately 5 million MP3s within the first eight weeks of their availability. Currently, some retail stores are charging as much as $18.98 or higher for CDs. Prices approaching $12.98, if not cheaper, will certainly be a welcome change.

The price reductions are expected to go into effect as early as Oct. 1. Let’s hope it will catch on and revive the industry as Universal hopes it will.