Chefelf.com Night Life: Dear Stupid Idiots - Chefelf.com Night Life

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Dear Stupid Idiots Thursday, February 2, 2006

#1 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 06:01 PM

As I walked through Union Square the other day I noticed a group of horn players on the sidewalk. Then they started playing. They were amazing. It doesn't take much for a horn section to impress me. I naturally love a horn section. Even just seeing a group of three to five people holding horns makes me want to dance.

The horn section grooved me so hard that I crossed the street to get a better listen and ended up watching them perform for a few minutes. What they played was pretty unique, an upbeat sort of funk groove incorporating trumpets, trombone and even a tuba!

This was my stuff. If you had to list my ten favorite things about a musical performance, this easily had eight or nine of the components solidly nailed down. After a minute or so I wondered if they had any recordings available. In the past year I've purchased quite a few great CDs from good street performers and I was really looking forward to taking this music home with me.

Just as I was wondering this, a man approached me holding a shoddily presented CD of the group's music. "You want a CD, guy?" he asked.

"Sure do. How much?"

"Twenty dollars."

I paused. "Twenty dollars?" I didn't know what to say. I wanted to ask if he was talking about U.S. dollars. Maybe there was some mistake and he was looking for Canadian or Australian currency. I considered asking him if he had any intention of ever selling a single CD at that price. I almost commented that his poorly presented CD was in a cracked jewel case (a $0.10 cost) with a shoddily printed cover and burned on a CD ($0.20) labeled with Sharpie and bearing the brand name "Maxell."

I have routinely paid between $5.00 and $10.00 for CDs of street performers. I'm okay with that. I usually consider $10.00 to be a little pricey for the product they're peddling. And I'm not just some ignorant Indie jerkoff who thinks he knows about how to manage bands or something. I was in a band. I have released CDs. I used to own a business that recorded and released CDs for local bands. I'm not a genius but I know a little bit about the process and the costs.

It irks me that I could have gone into the Virgin Megastore across the street and purchased the latest big label release for a dollar or two cheaper than this crappy burned CD. Even the latest big name release sporting a 20-page glossy print booklet and accompanying concert DVD needing to support some godless music conglomerate's multi-million dollar marketing campaign and being marked up to support the rent in a 20,000 square foot piece of prime Manhattan real estate can be acquired for a high price of $17.99.

So what gives?

The thing that gets me is that someone with multiple megacorporations to support, and cover expenses for, can undercut this group of jackasses just jamming on the street. Ashlee Simpson doesn't need to get her name out there. The White Stripes don't have to take to the street (at least not personally) to convince you to listen to their music. They're already on the radio and on the lips of dickhead DJs all across the western world.

C'mon guys. Get your heads out of your tubas and start giving away samples of your music or at least reducing the price of what you're charging. If you charged $2.00 for a CD you'd be making a 300% profit on your production expenses. Isn't that enough? The latest "it" bands like The Gin Blossoms or Candlebox aren't even clearing that much of a profit.

I don't recall the name of this group but I can only assume they were called The Stupid Idiots.

Guys, listen: I loved your music. I was ready to spend up to $10.00 to get a poorly done CD just to be able to hear it at home and support music that I really respected even though I thought that would've have been about twice as much as the product was worth. I had about $80.00 in my wallet. I didn't even need the $20.00 for something else. I really, really wanted that CD. If you can't win me over, you dummies don't stand a chance.

You're great. Get your music out there. Get it in people's hands, even if you have to sacrifice part of your 3,900% profit.

If you'd been smarter and less greedy I wouldn't be writing this now, I'd be listening to your CD instead and, more importantly, I'd remember what the name of your group was.
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#2 User is offline   barend Icon

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 06:53 PM

they need to cover their losses from all the street performance mp3 downloads that the kids are taking wink.gif
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#3 User is offline   Deepsycher Icon

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 07:30 PM

So thatís twenty dollars just for a poor quality CD and cracked case, sounds insulting.
Compared to that, how about recording their performances using stereo microphones from the outside?

Maybe for a reasonable price if they accept.

This post has been edited by Deepsycher: 02 February 2006 - 07:42 PM

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#4 User is offline   Slade Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 02:36 AM

... That's what ChefElf was saying.

Have these people absolutely no business sense at all? Everybody knows supply/demand!
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#5 User is offline   Jordan Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:29 AM

That is way too expensive. A street artist once tried to sell me his rap CD for 12 bucks, I said no, he said 8 bucks, I said I don't have money, he said "do you know any one that does? Bring them here and check my shit out yo"

That's 12-8 dollars Canadian. This guy also tried to get me to lure in customers for him. If he didn't have a dew rag on, I might have bought it.

20 bucks American? That's just stupid.
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#6 User is offline   Deepsycher Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 06:58 AM

Sounds to me like, "Attract and demand without the proper supply."

Just to be clear, I was meaning the description of the poor quality CD? Compared to street recording yourself. Which I question that people can easily get away without paying.

This post has been edited by Deepsycher: 03 February 2006 - 07:13 AM

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#7 User is offline   srmoore Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 01:04 PM

Use two nice shotgun mics from across the street.. in a van.. with dark windows.. then they won't know! hehe
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#8 User is offline   ion eon Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 01:45 PM

Hey i don't recognize you srmoore smile.gif
OH NO!!!
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Posted 03 February 2006 - 02:52 PM

Let's face it - these guys just took Chefelf for a sucker. If you see a little elf with facial hair strolling down the New York street you IMMEDIATELY think - here comes a sucker ready to rip off. Of course they could not be more wrong here, but the sad thing is, they probably succeed in 8 cases out of 10 (the percentage might be less, but it is still substantial). The stupidity of people is out there - otherwise who would benefit from bogus emails requesting to send your credit card and PIN number and other obvious frauds???
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#10 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:17 PM

I dunno. That's a LOT of money. I'm thinking they probably move very few CDs.

I wish I could remember the name of the group... I'd love to hear their music again!
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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:18 PM

It's an economy of scale. The White Stripes, as you say, can undercut these bozos, but the White Stripes are selling hundreds of thousands of CDs, and their promotion, staggering as it is, is done by a team of guys managing a few dozen bands at a time. These guys on the street are going to be lucky if they sell 20 of these things in a single day. Divided among all 5 of them, that's not a staggering amount of money for a day's work.

Yeah, it's a lot to pay if you don't like the stuff that much. But if it's as amazing as you say, you're crazy not to have grabbed one. Real talent ought to be paid for, just to make a point if nothing else.

That argument made, well, my heart's really not in it. These bozos should have got a quality laser printer and printed a logo on their CDs, produced booklets and used the street hawking as little more than a venue to promote their next live show in a it-down venue. How many folks come to those shows is the record company's benchmark of whether they ought to get a distribution deal. They also should have sold the CDs for about $10.
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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:33 PM

Well, that was the whole point Chefelf was making - 10 $ would be the upper limit he was prepared to pay. The economy of scale is important when the cost of research and development, production facilities, marketing, quality system etc are so huge that nobody could ever afford to buy your product if you make very few of them. Think mobile phones in early nineties - over here the price was several average salaries. Right now they are virtually giving these away.

In case of these guys there are no huge fixed costs. I've recently read an article that more and more indie musicians are producing themselves, because you can get posters, videos, printing etc very cheaply, only provided you are willing to work a little on it, just as you said. These guys are just too lazy. Their cost is negligible - and they would promote their talents much more effectively with cheaper CDs, and I see we all agree on this.
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#13 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:33 PM

QUOTE (civilian_number_two @ Feb 3 2006, 04:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
These guys on the street are going to be lucky if they sell 20 of these things in a single day. Divided among all 5 of them, that's not a staggering amount of money for a day's work.


Exactly. However... 0 CDs @ $20.00 each = $0.00. 50 CDs @ $5.00 = $250.00.

It's a really dumb mistake to make to overchage so you can make more money. I know that they're thinking they've sunk a lot of time and effort into this, and they have. However, they're not going to go anywhere if they aren't willing to charge a reasonable price to get their music out there.
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Posted 03 February 2006 - 07:47 PM

I think if you're on the street selling CD's is you're number job. You have no choice but to move units, be heard! The cheaper the better in that case. I mean, there is no way in hell 5 guys are going to make living off selling street CD's. It's just not possible.

This post has been edited by Jordan: 03 February 2006 - 07:48 PM

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#15 User is offline   Despondent Icon

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 08:00 PM

That very cracked case and sharpie'd cd is undoubtedly still in their merch bag.
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