Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Musical Price Point

Arrested While Driving Blind - ZZ Top (mp3)
Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top (mp3)

Like most unattractive redneck men, ZZ Top's schtick
was about suggesting that unattractive redneck men
could somehow pull in legs like these.
ZZ Top = Meh.

The bearded banditos never disgusted me or left me cold, but I never recall sitting somewhere and thinking to myself, “Boy, I sure could use some ZZ Top right about now.”

“Tush.” “La Grange.” These deserve consideration in the extended list of classic rock greats. And to this day I suspect their video for “Legs” assisted me in my long-overdue leap to puberty. But beyond that, nothing much sticks.

If all this is true, why would I have recently purchased Rancho Texicano: The Very Best of ZZ Top on Amazon?

The 2 CD set of 36 songs and two remixes (dance remixes?? oh hell to the yes!) was on sale for $2.99 at Amazon. The math was pretty compelling, obviously. Each song would cost me roughly $0.12. If I was just purchasing the three songs I enjoy and appreciate for the standard $0.99 each, the other 33 would be free.

This is how our buy-happy minds rationalize things, you see.

So why spend $3 on 38 songs I’ll likely never love, only a half-dozen or so I’ll ever even remember are in my collection? Is $3 my ZZ Top Price Point? Do I feel I’ve made a wise fiscal decision?

If you’re reading this, and you’re not a die-hard ZZ Top fan, how many songs can you casually list off the top of your noggin that you like? Five? If you can name more than eight ZZ Top songs, you’re probably a fan. (To be fair, the same could be said of Rush.) Assuming you don’t believe in stealing music -- which is a big assumption in 2012 -- are your musical tastes dictated by price points, by the radio, by the stubborn insistence that “newer music” isn’t worth your time? What fuels your musical engine?

Because I’m still stuck in the philosophical land of wanting to “own” music, the mythical Price Point concept is a central driving notion. Hell, two years ago, I bought Katrina & The Waves’ greatest hits (25 songs!) because I could get it for $3. Katrina and the mutherf*#kin' Waves! A band with one recognizable song, and I bought their Greatest Hits. (And don't it feel good! Hey!)

The Nice Price was a clueless adolescent's way of identifying
those albums which, while of questionable value, were less
costly were the purchase choice to be an inexcusable mistake.
If you are old enough, you remember record stores used to have bins where albums and/or cassettes had The Nice Price stickers. I’ve always been a sucker for those damn stickers. That bin is how I fell in love with Cheap Trick (“Dream Police” and “Standing on the Edge” both on deep discount!). It’s how I convinced myself to buy my first Night Ranger and first Def Leppart albums. Without The Nice Price, I would not have owned Yaz. These are not small matters, dear reader.

Alas, record stores are like pit bulls at the Vick estate, and Nice Price Stickers are relegated to Google Images. Nowadays, I frequently take the freebies offered by iTunes and stay sharply attuned to the sales and specials in’s mp3 store. The $5 offers are nice, but you don’t get my full attention until I see that precious, illogically-seductive $2.99 offer.

And that’s where I am. Mixing in 38 songs from ZZ Top into my current and modern rotation of The Gaslight Anthem, The Shins, Metric, Rush, and Grace Potter. It adds a little bit of good ol’ days to the mix.

So, dear reader, do you have some musical Kryptonite? Something that leads to illogical impulse purchases of music you might live to regret owning? ‘Fess up. No one’s reading anyway!


Anonymous said...


G. B. Miller said...

I definitely remember those "Nice Price" stickers from my youth.

I have quite a few illogical "purchases" (if you can call freebies purchases) that I have gotten mocked for.

ONJ and Phoebe Snow to name just a few.

However, for today's stuff, I do have some stuff that I very much regret buying.

Mayhem (death metal)
Chi-Lites (remastered in stereo)
The Ramones
John Lennon

Billy said...

Thanks GB. Reasonable minds can certainly differ, but I will never apologize for owning (or vowing my eternal love to) ONJ.

Regarding your other regrets, I share your vibe. The Ramones aren't worth more than, at most, 5-6 songs for my tastes, and John Lennon was the Beatle whose talents were most clearly better as a part of the larger Beatle Whole. (Lennon fanatics mostly blame Yoko; I blame Lennon for Yoko.)

Daisy said...

If buying something you don't need just because it is cheap makes it kryptonite superman is in big trouble!

troutking said...

I have a weakness for buying CDs at concert that I'll never listen to. I'd like to say it's to support fledgling artists, but it may be that I also drink beer at concerts.

cinderkeys said...

Funnily enough, I was just at a CD store for the first time in forever, I was shocked to find that prices had finally responded to the realities of the market. I bought many CDs tonight.

Oh, hey, and one of them was A Few Small Repairs. Thanks for the recommendation, Bob.