I found this article in my copy of Esquire magazine and wanted to share it with all of you. There are some good points made I think, that might help the industry from killing itself with signing subpar groups. Feel free to post your opinion. What Is Music Worth? If you think you're already paying too much for music, you should think again by Andy Langer | Apr 01 '04 Lauryn Hill has balls the size of grapefruits. In case you missed it, she recently poked her head out of self-imposed exile to deliver a tirade against pedophile priests—while onstage at the freakin' Vatican. Then she asked fans to pay $15 for a one-song online video that you could view only three times. And when a music-industry message board carried the thread "For $15, you can listen to Lauryn Hill's new song," one poster asked, "Does the $15 go to her or us?" It's a good point, as L-Boogie is clearly no Alan Greenspan. It's ludicrous for her to ask us to pay the same $15 for a seven-minute crapshoot as we would for full albums of guaranteed genius like Rubber Soul or Led Zeppelin IV . But the craziest part of the whole thing is that she may have accidentally hit on an unpopular but important truth: The biggest threat to the future of music isn't piracy, it's pricing. And right now, we're not paying nearly enough. What music fans need is an option that allows us to rally for better-quality music the old-fashioned way—with our dollars. As Americans, we don't mind paying a premium for convenience. I'll gladly pay an extra two bucks for you to bring the wonton soup to my door. But we've also proven that we don't mind paying a premium for premium performance. It's the not-so-secret secret behind BMWs, Rolexes, and 420-thread-count sheets. Yet we're increasingly being asked to pay less for new music. Last year, to great fanfare, Universal Music, the world's largest record company, cut wholesale prices by nearly 30 percent. Part of its motivation was to win back those of us who turned to illegal downloading because we knew what music wasn't worth—$18.98 for a CD with only one song we actually liked. And in the upcoming months, the industry's newest player, Steve Jobs, will devalue music even further by giving 100 million Pepsi drinkers free iTunes downloads with the flip of a bottle cap. Fighting the notion that music isn't free with more free music is a nice way to sell iPods, but it's a shitty way to thank Willie Nelson or Los Lobos for their undeniable brilliance. What we're getting now is music at flea-market prices—which is good for our wallets but bad for the music we'll be looking for in the future. Cheaper music means cheaper music. Literally. The only artists who don't lose from cheaper albums are the ones already doing the kind of volume where it doesn't matter—big ol' lowest-common-denominator-pandering pop stars. And with cheaper music, only pop stars capable of that kind of pandering are going to get star-making marketing dollars out of their record companies. Any artist who doesn't fit into the usual mold stands in line for sloppy seconds. We'd be lucky to find the next Jack Johnson, let alone the next Bob Dylan, if things stay the same. Yet there's already a precedent that shows we're willing to pay extra for musical quality. Rarely do you see the Rolling Stones', the Beatles', or Miles Davis's records discounted, but the catalogs of each are mainstays on album-sales charts. Record stores know these are albums so satisfying that we're willing to pay full retail for them. Similarly, we're willing to fork over serious money for concert tours we believe will be serious entertainment. It wasn't long ago that we'd have balked at a $100 Elton John ticket. Now we realize that's what a full live set of shamelessly satisfying sing-alongs is going to cost. We should begin to treat recorded music the same way. And there's only one truly effective way to do it: an across-the-board price hike. Admittedly, raising prices on music will sting. It might even suck outright. But the free ride is over. And a price hike could indeed unite us, raising the stakes for everyone. It's good ol'-fashioned Darwinism. We'd simply raise prices on every record across the board and see what survives. And this much is clear: Paying more for music will mean we're bringing fewer bad albums into our homes, because this is a plan that effectively taxes shitty taste. Fans of Celine Dion have every right to keep her in business, but they'll have to pay extra to do it. In fact, if there's a way to make sure she retires for good, this may be it. True pop stars like Pink or dependable hit makers like Creed and Nickelback might still sell records, but raise the price to $22 an album and Bennigan's might just wind up with a bunch of new waiters who don't need name tags. Higher prices would not just weed out the weak but also encourage artists to offer us more bang for our buck. The first time they give us a record with all filler and no killer is the last time they get our lunch money. To encourage us to take a chance on new artists, upstarts would be exempt from the hike for their first two records or their first 100,000 albums sold, whichever comes first. And if you think higher prices just means more people running toward illegal file-sharing, think again. Eminem, Norah Jones, and OutKast don't sell millions of records today because they've found a silver bullet to thwart downloading in dorm rooms. They sell records because they create music that makes us thankful that we paid for it. The concept seems radical only because we're unwilling to admit that what we've got now is a bargain. After all, when you consider the $30 you're paying for a DVD you might watch all of three times, $20 for what could be a 55-minute soundtrack to the rest of your life sounds like a deal. And sure, raising the price of music will undoubtedly make legions of fans whine. Many may even boycott. But these people aren't your friends; they're the enemies of great music. Because the only antidote to the outdated system that's ruining good music is an incentive model that encourages new artists, rewards quality, and, most of all, provides consistency and value for you and me, the music fans who work all week to make our rock stars rich. Try finding that under the lid of a Pepsi bottle.