Written by 5:55 am Audiophile • 2 Comments

How Much Do You Spend on Music?

Steven Stone looks at his musical software budget over the years…

I’ve been into music most of my life. The first album that I spent my own hard-earned money on was from Joey Dee and the Starlighter’s “Peppermint Twist” which augmented my parent’s collection of Gilbert and Sullivan, Frank Sinatra, and a lone Peter, Paul and Mary album. By the time I went off to college in Boston I had developed a pretty serious jones for new music. I had to put myself on a strict budget so that I didn’t blow through the money I needed for food, books, and rent. 

AR-mm1a.pngI distinctly remember what my monthly allotment of cash for musical expenditures came to – $100US. 

And, boy howdy, was it easy to blow through $100 for records in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Although I remember some list prices as high as $7.99 in 1970 ($52 in 2018 dollars) most were $3.99 ($26.00 in 2018 dollars) or $4.99 ($32.50 in 2018 dollars). So, if I bought cheaper albums I could, possibly max out at 25 new releases, but this budget also included money for live concerts, so I usually tried to focus on acquiring the ten best releases each month, so I had some money left for live shows.

And I went to a lot of live concerts…at least once a week, sometimes more like three. Living in Boston in the early 70’s there were plenty of concerts to see – rock, classical, jazz…I saw Miles, Led Zep, Janis (Joplin and Ian), Bernstein, and Doc Watson, in now legendary venues like the Tea Party, Pall’s Mall, Jazz Workshop, Jordan Hall, Symphony Hall, and much later, The Rat and Spit.

So, by the end of the month, I spent more time listening to FM radio and perusing the Boston Phoenix and Real Papers, anticipating where I would expend my monthly allotment in the upcoming month.

AR-money on music3a opy.jpgBy the way, that $100 a month in 1970 translates to an annual expenditure of $7821 in 2018 dollars…

When I entered this into my handy dandy inflation calculator, I had to do it twice to make sure I got it right…but that’s what the cumulative inflation of 551.8% adds up to…

I do not spend anywhere near that kind of money on music today.

I have a couple of monthly streaming services whose total would add up to $45/mo.

I buy maybe five albums a month, usually direct from the creators, which usually comes to less than $80.

My concert attendance budget is almost 0 because most of the live music I hear is at a jam or musical event where I’m as much a participant as a listener. Sometimes, I’m a recording engineer. Every three or four months I attend a house concert at $20 a pop, and that’s it for concert-going.

AR-wmoney on music5a.jpgSo, my current music software budget comes in at $1600 a year in 2018 dollars. That’s a $6200 dollar drop, or only 20% of the budget I spent so easily in 1970.

Multiply me times all the other boomer music lovers and you can see why the music business is suffering fundamental shifts in income streams and profitability.

And how about you, boomer audio buddies (those still breathing) what’s your musical software expenditures like these days?

Mine, obviously have changed in ways that do not add to industry growth…

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