If you don’t offer lossless downloads, you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s why:
People who are serious about music and buy a lot of it tend to be serious about sound quality. In my own tests, I’m able to distinguish lossless files from even 320kbps MP3s. Therefore, I’m very reluctant to buy anything but lossless music.
Right now, the CD is dying. Amazon is full of people selling their old used CDs. Even the used CD stores are going bust because not enough people want to buy the discs. Austin’s main used CD store recently announced it was going out of business, and when it’s not a viable business model in a town as full of students and focused on music as Austin, you know it’s not going to be viable elsewhere for much longer.
So, serious music fans want lossless audio. Stores are full of used CDs selling for pennies. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? We buy the CDs used for $3-4 including shipping, rip them, then give them to Goodwill, sell them used again, or pass them to a friend to check out. We get lossless audio for less money than you charge for a lossy download on iTunes, and you make no profit at all on the transaction.
But there’s another way. We don’t want to stiff the artist. We don’t want to have to deal with postage, packaging, ripping CDs, checking for errors, finding cover art, and so on. Offer us a way to buy lossless audio files for under $10 and we’ll probably take it.
So, ball’s in your court.
And to artists: My favorite way to buy music is FLAC files directly from you, sold via Bandcamp or your own Web site. Please bear that in mind when contract renewal time comes up.