Friday, April 30, 2004

The Stupidity of Well-Heeled Businessmen (or, the forty-four cent hyphen)

Last week I searched iTunes for "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys," by Traffic and learned that I could not purchase the song for $.99, I had to purchase the entire album for $9.99.

I was incredulous. Why should I have to pay more for this song than any other song? That was not the deal as I understood iTunes' business plan.

Then I received an email from a friend who said he downloaded it for .99 by searching for the song without the hyphen between 'high' and 'heeled'!

So I tried it, and guess what: You can purchase "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" as a single, but if you want "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" you must buy the album.

The hyphenated version of the song is from the similarly named album, but the un-hyphenated (wow, is un-hyphenated really a hyphenated word?) version of the song is from the Steve Winwood Millennium Collection greatest hits album! Conveniently, they are the exact same version of the song!

I can only assume that because the original "Low Spark" LP included only seven cuts, they will not allow you to purchase all of them for .99 because then you would get the whole album for less than $9.99. iTunes can profit on single song sales from LPs with more than ten cuts, but will potentially lose money if a song has ten cuts or less! With only seven cuts, you could potentially purchase the entire "Low Spark" LP for $6.93; but, by forcing us to purchase the entire LP for $9.99, they are charging us $1.43 per cut.

Now, you might consider this nit-picking, and anyone who knows me knows that I could care less about the difference between $1.43 and .99. I have spent dramatically more money typing about it than it is worth. My point is not that I won't pay the extra .44, it is that iTunes should either sell songs for .99 or not. Don't nickel and dime me for a thirty year-old song. Nobody was going to purchase a single of "Low Spark" (hyphen or none) ever again! The .99 is a windfall for the distributors, publishers and artists!

I will do a little more research to see if other seven-cut LPs are sold in a similar fashion. If you find out, let us all know please.

In the meantime, please consider purchasing the un-hyphenated version of "Low Spark" because it's a great song!