To the Editor:
I am thankful Bill Wyman chose a career in journalism where he is currently paid for his probing wit rather than his business acumen [Hitsville, September 30]. I feel compelled to illuminate several facts for Wyman which may make a difference not only in his future columns (thank God), but also in the amount of his disposable income.
The United States economic system is based on a market economy where the law of supply and demand dictates price. This assumes that the government does not control the price momentum in some fashion. Unlike milk or cheese, the price of CDs is not currently subsidized by the federal government.
I laughed hysterically at his statement that record companies seem to make more money every year. This keen observation could be the plot of Wayne’s World 3.
When covering the alternative rock scene, Wyman undoubtedly hears the laments of newly signed artists that their recording and promotional budgets are not what they had foreseen. Like any business, money to fund new projects has to come from somewhere. It is an entertainment axiom that the hits pay for the misses. Thus, the revenues of Pearl Jam have to be used to pay for those acts who might become successful and those who will not succeed at all.
Wyman should be jumping up and down, and not just in the mosh pit, when hearing that record companies keep making more money every year. It means our society still values music and the contribution musicians make to the quality of our lives. The solution is not to enact a “bake bread not bombs” mentality to corporate America. What would make a difference is if people with aesthetic sensibilities like Wyman demonstrated that they knew something about business.
In Economics 101, one learns that the customer has the right to exercise his or her consumer sovereignty as a countervailing force to increased prices. Put simply: No one has to pay the prices record companies charge for their products. Perhaps Wyman missed that class because he overslept after a Clash concert.
If Wyman wants to alter the profitability of record companies like Epic, I suggest he list the CDs whose prices have risen and ask his readers not to buy them. That would be complaining where it counts.