How Many Times Do I Need to Pay For This Song?

Rock BandI love Rock Band for the PS3. A friend lent his set a couple of weeks ago to me and my husband and we’ve been enjoying learning how to “play” drums and guitar, as well as do vocals. Rock Band comes with a collection of songs but you can buy scores of other songs (in different genres) on the Sony store.

So last night, I paid $1.99 for the Police’s Synchronicity.  I love this song.  I loved the album when it came out.  I even saw the Police in concert for this tour.  So I was happy to shell out $2 to be able to sing one of my favorite Police songs.

Then it hit me:  I’ve paid for Synchronicity four times:

  • When the album first came out, I bought the LP.
  • Then I bought the cassette so I could have it in my dorm room in college (yeah, I know, I’m dating myself).
  • When I started my CD collection, I of course bought Synchronicity on CD.
  • Last night, I paid for Synchronicity so I can do my best Sting imitation while playing Rock Band.

I can think of a couple dozen other songs and albums that I’ve paid for multiple times as technology has advanced and I “had to have” a favorite song collection in the new format.  When it comes to videos, the same thing has happened.  I’ve paid for Harry Potter in Full Screen format, Wide Screen format and Blu-Ray.

I wish I could pay one fee, add myself to a master database, and be able to download my songs and movies in different formats, but I guess that’s not a sustainable model for musicians, music labels and the movie houses.  Or is it?  If more and more of our music and videos are being purchased on demand from Web sites like iTunes and Amazon, will the platform really matter much in the future?

Oh well.  I just wonder how many more times I’ll purchase Synchronicity, Stop Making Sense, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, yada, yada.

5 thoughts on “How Many Times Do I Need to Pay For This Song?

  1. For me, Rock Band is a separate case from the other three: it took a considerable amount of work for folks at Rock Band to create the tracks that provide the gameplay for the song. There’s creating all of the pitch pipes for the vocal track, then creating the three instrumental tracks at four different difficulty levels. I can only imagine how many times the person or people working on Synchronicity listened to the song before they were done! In other words, a lot of fresh time and effort went into putting that track on Rock Band.

    On the subject of buying music again and again on different formats, though, I do think that we’re not far away from the point where we’ll shift to a model of library membership rather than song ownership. We’ll pay monthly fees to Napster or Rhapsody services and have access to everything we want, and musicians whose songs are listened to will receive a percentage of that membership income.

    What’s your instrument of expertise? I play guitar on expert level (though a few of the hardest metal songs at the end can still destroy me) and am working on drums, which take–in my opinion–by far the most skill.

  2. I agree with you re: Rock Band. The gameplaying experience is excellent. The graphics are great, the levels really let people with different skills play, and it’s just a super fun experience. And turning a sock into a RockBand song is whole new experience!

    I do mostly vocals (easy or medium) coz I’m too chicken to keep moving up levels. I just started on drums and love it. Haven’t tackled the guitar yet, but hope to do a few songs this weekend. Getting really good and becoming an Expert isn’t my goal. I do it for the social aspect and coz the 5 year-old loves Rock Band; he’s been doing vocals and drums (with daddy doing the foot pedal).

    One more note re: iTunes. I’m annoyed that iTunes let me re-purchase songs. I “forgot” that I had already purchased a song I needed for an iDVD project. iTunes let me re-purchase the song within a couple of days of the original purchase. Then when I went to work on the DVD, I realized my mistake. You’d think I would have gotten an alert or something.

  3. :-)) so I have that with Lord of the Rings…. video (seperate), dvd(box!!), game & xbox-game… I realise that now you wrote your column!! Poeh. And also with different cd’s ( I have them on cassette, lp and cd!! ….)

  4. Books is another arena where this may become/is already annoying –

    I’ve contemplated buying a Kindle from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00154JDAI). It would be really nice if I could automatically get a Kindle version of ALL the books I’ve already purchased from Amazon! You know they are keeping a history of my purchases, so why not let me read in this new format? In this example, there definitely is not any “new work” being done, since the books most certainly already exist in a digital format. Most new books were probably created in a digital format.

    So do I repurchase my entire paper-based library at $9.99/book? Or am I forever stuck with two libraries?

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