The Bargain Bin Wins

I spent some time in a book/music/movie store last week just killing time. They sell new and used material, which is another reason I can shop for hours in this place. I admit, I get most of my music from iTunes (what I buy that is, I also get a lot of music that gets sent to me from bands and artists). It’s been at least ten years that I’ve spent any serious time and money purchasing a physical copy of an artist’s music (with the exception of the vinyl albums I pick up at thrift stores). But that changed on this recent trip.

I admit I’m a sucker for the bargain bin, at least in terms of thumbing through it to see if there’s anything in there I recognize. They had 2 bins that had CDs for $2-5. Usually all that’s in a bin like that are these obscure bands from who-knows-where that maybe 15 people have heard of. Not the case this time! Seriously, I was really surprised to not only find bands that I recognized, but albums that I’ve been on the market for a little while but hadn’t purchased yet. It was one of the best bargain bin experiences I’ve had.

So I picked out 3 or 4 CDs, from artists like Bruce Springsteen, The Get Up Kids, and Citizen Cope. As I’m picking these out I realize that these are new CDs, not used ones, and the total cost of them is less than $20. I do a little configuration in my head and figure out that if I were to purchase the totality of songs on these discs online (be it iTunes or Amazon), it would cost $40-$60 bucks. What a deal, plus I can put these songs on my iTunes and iPod and still have a tangible hard copy in the highest audio WAV quality (audiophiles will understand that reference better than others).

I take these CDs with me as I continue shopping. I walk into the section of music that features racks of vinyl albums. I thumb through the Iron & Wine section and contemplate picking up The Shepherd’s Dog album on vinyl. Only thing is that I already have the album in digital form, and this record costs about $30. Yeah I sound really thrifty and cheap, and in a way I really am. That’s just the way it is. What I found in this experience is the irony that 30 years or more after vinyl had started to shift into a secondary form of music consumption (the 8-track started to become first followed by the cassette tape only to be completely dethroned by the compact disc), the CD is in the bargain bin for pennies on the dollar and the Vinyl album is the prized and more costly selection. That’s wild.

I do love that Vinyl is making a nostalgic comeback, even if it’s a trendy thing driven by singer-songwriter and indie music fans. I do think it’s really wild that in 2012 a CD has the same selling power as cassette tapes in 1995 (when CDs cost roughly $15-$20 each). It’s still the same music, new and old albums. Time changes how we consume and how much it costs to consume.

Coming up on this week’s episode of The Appetizer, I’m sharing some selections from the CDs I picked up on this bargain bin experience. The bargain bin wins, and in the end, so do you and I. The Return Of The CD will be up on the Listen-Now link on Friday.

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Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

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