It’s the time of year for saving money!
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.
I 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.
By 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.
So, 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…
As with most things, I tend to be more impulsive rather than on a budget. Affixing an actual monthly spend might be hard to pin down. When I do buy music, I usually buy more than one or two copies of something. Just yesterday I bought six brand new LP’s. A week before that, five brand new CD’s. I may or may not buy anything new for a month or two, maybe more, but maybe not. If I hear something new and interesting, maybe on satellite radio or streamed for instance, and if I like what I’m hearing, I may buy several of the works of that particular artist. Or just the one. There’s no real plan, no real dedicated effort on my decision to buy new music. Basically, if I want something new, I just go get it.
Buy way less. Already own most of the classic recordings I like. When a label like Acoustic Sounds or RR, Chesky reissues a piece I like its bought.