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Save or Spend: Music Edition

How do you save money while still keeping up with music?

That is a question that has bugged me for the past year or so. I've drastically cut back on non-necessary spending. These days I'm more into saving for the future instead of just living for the present.

It's hard to keep up with all the new music when you've made a conscious decision to not buy much of anything unless its a necessity. Concert tickets are another story entirely. Tickets are even worse because of the cost factor alone.

So, what do you do? Obviously I still buy albums (you already know I don't download) and I do go to shows. For 2011, I've decided to cut down on my number of concerts and I'll only be doing a couple festivals this year. At some point, we all need to make a collective decision to boycott astronomical tickets prices. After all, as much as we love our bands, at some point we're just lining the pockets of big corporations like Live Nation and hurting our own bottom lines.

Really, it's a frustrating predicament. I'm a bona fide music nerd. Music obsessed, that's me. I've been buying at least one CD a week since I was 14. That's a lot of music, yo. But now what? I always support the bands I love – but I just can't do it to my own detriment anymore. So what do you do? Or don't do? I'm curious.

Reader Comments (19)

i use ebay - some folks buy a cd/record, realise they dont like it and up it goes for less price - if i really need it now then i buy it right off before it goes up in price.but i refuse to get into the money making machines of so many different versions of the same stuff - i used to but not any more unless its a band i love.

I have spent a fortune on music over the years - its my one pleasure left after i got rid of my other 'vices'.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter$kwint
I've noticed that a lot of the places I used to buy my CD's at have really cut back on what they have to sell. Walmart (they have really gone down hill with everything) and Best Buy (shocked at how much they have cut back on what is displayed/for sale.) And AMEN on ticket prices. We have stopped even thinking about going to some concerts as they are absolutely insane for what they are asking for tickets.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterold sarge
iTunes saves me a ton.

Entire albums are $10 or less, and if I'm just trying stuff out (or don't care about a whole album), $1.29 for a single is a no-brainer.

When I (extremely rare now) actually feel the need to purchase a piece of plastic with songs on it, there is a local used record chain that has a great selection with prices at about 60% of retail.

I typically don't use ebay or other online sources for physical purchases because I generally lose any savings once shipping is factored in.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
I've been boycotting big concerts for at least fifteen years. Back in the glorious 80s when I was in high school, a ticket to a big time concert cost around $15. with the shirts also costing around $15, you could do a concert and a shirt for around $30. I simply refuse to pay the astronomical ticket prices of today that are completely out of line with the cost of living.

As for buying music, I still do a lot of that, but now I buy from the Amazon MP3 store where an album is like $9 and I don't have to clutter up my house with more pieces of plastic.

At 42 years old, I am easily as much of a music fanatic as I was 30 years ago, but paying the mortgage and putting food on the table has to come first.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Not going to lie: I have downloaded large amounts over the course of my 21 years. However, I am able to justify it to myself. If I don't like the music, I immediately delete it from my hard drive and do not allow torrenting from my machine. However, should I like it, I will always go to the bands concert (sometimes driving 1000 miles across Canada) and always buy a T-shirt. The band will see far more of this tour merch money than from a CD (or so I tell myself). I also always purchase their live DVDS.

I put a lot of this practice up to my generation's habits. Also, the fact I can't get most European records for a reasonable price in Calgary does not help. University tuition also bites into my CD purchasing habits.

Spence of
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterspence
I still buy way too much music, but I do a lot of hunting around for a good price, and have gotten more willing to wait on a US release if the import is $5 or more than what I generally pay for domestic (certain bands I still buy multiple versions of though).

I occasionally buy digital from iTunes or Amazon, but still prefer to have the CD. Mostly only buy digital if I only want a song or two, bonus tracks, or if it's not a band I've been collecting previously and the CD is not easily gotten in the US.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack
i will go to the bands website and listen to afew songs to decide if its worth buying.i also will go to the local record store and see if they have a used copy to help save money.i agree 100% about concert ticket prices.i m very careful when i chose what concert i buy tickets for.i m a music fanatic, but in this economy, you have to picky .
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbumblefootboy
I never download, it's easy to play word games to justify stealing to yourself, but, I just figure I'd rather pay the people who make the art. Buying less actually helps you to appreciate more IMO, I often buy so much that I get swamped and some stuff goes on the rack unlistened to. I am cutting right back on shows tho, I will try to see Priest and Accept if they come to AU, and I will try to get to M3, to catch up with Allyson as much as anything, but that's close to it, I reckon.
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Allyson and Christian:

When you guys say you don't download, do you mean you just don't download illegally, or will you buy mp3s from amazon, itunes, etc.?
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
I won't reveal all of my sources.

But I do not download illegally.

iTunes can be lethal but I'm always happy even if they just killed my wallet. If I think of something or get hooked into their recommendations, it can get dangerous but I am always so psyched to be able to nail something instantly, as soon as I discover they've got it.

iTunes never ceases to amaze me what they do and do not have. Often they have hidden gems I never dreamed would be on there.

Sometimes I will go ahead and buy a CD instead of getting it off iTunes, the thinking pretty obvious here -- why not collect the CD if it's something you really want and it's the same or not that much more than you can get it for on iTunes.

Then again, sometimes I'll get something on iTunes because of the sheer instant gratification of it and still buy a hard copy either online or in-store, if it's something I really love.

Just tonight I bought the coolest thing that just randomly popped into my head, something I hadn't heard since 1979!...

"White Knuckles/Rockin'n'Rollin'", Gary Moore off his G-Force album from '79!

Unfrickin' believable! I don't know how I unearthed this from my inner Metal psyche since the last time I heard it was '79 on WGTB Radio, the long gone college radio station of Georgetown University.

By the way, The Jesuits shut down the station in '79 with Bowie playing like 3 days straight without a repeat.

Anywho, I found "White Knuckles/Rockin'n'Rollin'" on iTunes. Viola, just 30 seconds after I remembered this killer tune, I had it on my iTunes playlists.

Guys, if you haven't heard this, you will be blown away.

I pay out the whazoo for everything from VIP concert tickets to an ultra rarity you have never heard of who are actually better than the stuff you have.

I'm broke but I couldn't be happier!

Occasionally I will find a deal from the usual suspects.

Hey, you gotta pay to play, kidz!

p.s. Man, it's a sickness! Though it seems like I am buying a lot of stuff, the buying sprees have been greatly curtailed because of the economy. But in the end, I'm still hopelessly addicted to Glam Metal! Thank God for BBG!
January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
99% of the time I don't download, legally or illegally. The only things I do download, that 1%, are free podcasts that I subscribe to, any promotional review copies bands/labels/PR people send me for review and the occasional link for a live recording. I have an iPod and an iTunes account but my iPod only has music that is in my collection.

The podcasts are the new radio and, seeing that FM Radio generally sucks, the free independent podcasts that I subscribe to like Hair Metal Mansion, Talking Rock, Talking Metal, PodKISSt and Iron City Rocks are my only music radio programming now. They are a great tool to do the research in order to make informed purchases.....more on that later.

The promotional copies are mostly digital downloads now. When I started Heavy Metal Addiction, I did it to talk about my collection. After the first 2 years, I started getting promo packages and press kits sent in for review and many of those included CDs! Now, most everything is sent via email with the appropriate links so I download them for review if I am interested and I do not share or make the download public.

I have downloaded a couple of live concerts from people who sent me the files or have sent me a copy but I don't go out of my way to explore torrent sites etc.....I wouldn't know where to begin.

I was born in 1972 and I got heavily into music around 1982 so I'm definitely a child of the record store culture. Since I was a kid, I bought and collected music. I have always liked to have my own copy of an album whether it was on vinyl, tape or CD. I just can't get into the digital thing. There's nothing to hold, no book to flip thru and no artwork. It's not the same thing to look at the liner notes and artwork on the computer compared to having it in your hand. I'm sure that someday CDs and DVDs wuill become a thing of the past and that will be a sad day for all the collectors out there.

As a collector that 99% of the time buys all his music with his hard-earned cash, the trick is to find the best price. Back in the day you had a lot of record stores competing for your dollar but the mom & pop stores are becoming extinct and most big box stores and national record chains have limited selections. Lucky for me I have an independent record store chain, Newbury Comics, in my area and they have great prices. I also use Ebay and certain online shops I used over the years like NEH Records, Sentinel Steel and CD Inzane.

I get all the e-newsletters from the online stores and Newbury Comics so I am able to compare the prices for new releases and make my list. Most of the time, I'm outside Newbury Comics at 9:45am on Tuesday to grab all the new releases on my list at the sale prices. I would rather buy a CD for $9.99, $11.88 or $12.88 on sale when they albums are released than wait two weeks and pay regular prices that range between $14-$18. If it's a band I love, I will splurge on a deluxe or limited edition. If I already have a promotional copy, I will wait until I find a used copy and that could take months. I take advantage of used CDs, coupons and special sales to keep my collection growing and Newbury Comics has enough of those, and enough locations within an hour of home, to have a great selection. When I shop online, I try and compare the prices (including shipping) with the record stores and Ebay. I also try and take advantage of special sales at the online shops.

Ebay is hit or miss. I started in 1998 and the prices have levelled off in the last 12+ years. Many retailers purposefully list on Ebay and their prices are sometimes lower with BUY IT NOW than in their online store. There are still bargains but you have to look and be patient.

In this day and age, saving money on anything and everything is imperative and it's one of my goals for 2011. I have decided to cut back again on my music spending because, with a family & a house, the responsible thing to do is plan ahead. I will still buy music but I will be more selective and more frugal. Last year, I bought 178 items (CDs/DVDs/LPs/Box sets) and I spent $1860. That's about $36 per week and averages to $10.23 per item.There have been years I've spent a lot more and years I've spent a LOT MORE!!! I have an insatiable love of music and I don't drink, smoke, drug or is my only vice.

Heavy Metal Addiction
January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRhodeislandrock
The last post was getting too long.....

I also do a lot of research to make informed purchaes. MySpace, iTunes & CD Baby are great tools to preview music and get an idea what a band sounds like, especially helpful for new bands. Band websites and record labels are also a great way to buy CDs. Sometimes there are package deals with a t-shirt or a poster or there is free shipping.

As far as concert tickets go.....they are way too high. I still go to a few concerts a year but a lot less than what I used to see. If it's a good bill, I will go. If it's a big name band I love, I will go. I like to actually see the show but a lot of the new arenas are built so there aren't that many bad seats. I go to a lot of shows at the Mohegan Sun Casino about an hour away in Connecticut. I take advantage of the free shows at their small club in the middle of the casino floor and I try and buy the second tier tix because the regular arena is smaller. Outdoor venues with lawn tix are OK but I like to be under the shed and see the show. Sometimes, if you wait until the day of the show, tickets are available at discount prices especially at Live Nation arenas. Read the forums, there are tons of people getting great seats as "walk-ups" at a lot less. I only go to club shows when it's a band I like a lot or that don't tour the U.S. often. UFO is coming to a club in July, I'm going no matter what the price.

It all depends on the band. KISS is my favorite band and I've paid $125 before for great seats on a previous tour, a far cry from the $15 ticket I paid for in 1987. My wife loves Bon Jovi and I am taking her to the Boston show in March unfortunately. That was $330 for the pair ($165 each!) but she doesn't go to many shows. That was a luxury I couldn't deny her and I'm taking her.....not my 1st choice to see live but I will have fun. It's all about value, knowing the system and how to make it work for you.

Heavy Metal Addiction
January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRhodeislandrock
I don't buy MP3s unless it's the only way to get a song, I just don't see the point. Of course, I never download if I have not paid for it. If a band gives away a song to preview an album, I'll download, and I'll end up buying the album 9 times out of 10.
January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
iTunes for instant gratification to build my Playlists.

Hard copies for the completist collector in me or if it's not available on iTunes.

Like Steve, I don't know the first thing about Torrent sites.

I will confess to one Holy Grail I downloaded off something somewhere -- some kind of post free Napster thingy about 3 years ago...

I don't know how I pulled this out of the clouds but it is KILLER!...

I somehow downloaded...

A killer cover of...

The Humble Pie 70's classic, "Thirty Days In The Hole" as interpreted by Kick Axe!

It is only available on the long out of print "Up The Creek" Soundtrack LP released in 1984 on the Pasha label.

It was never released on CD.

Apparently, it was also released as a cassette only bonus cut on the Canadian release of the Kick Axe album, "Vices", but I've never been able to find a copy.

So, if you guys are as Rapidshare or Torrent site averse as I am, you probably have to face the music (pun intended) and pick up the album on Ebay or Amazon in order to get the song.

It will be well worth it, my friends, if you like your Metal Glam and like to hear a classic song done thoroughly crunched out, 80's style.

Just wait 'til you hear the lead and lead outro, Christian, if you don't already have this!

Once you have the album in your hot little hands, Steve, if you don't already have it, you will love the album graphics, but more so, the entire soundtrack, a perfect slice of 80's Pop and Metal including the movie's theme song by Cheap Trick, plus additional tracks by them which are also available on their "Sex, America, Cheap Trick" box set.

Once you have the album, of course, you have to convert it and transfer it to CD in order to put the cut on a Playlist.

It's all about the playlists for me, as I like to have my own form of Metal Musak to listen to as Hair Nation and most Podcasts still don't go deep enuff into the true study of Glam Metal.

This song is but one example of the kind of Metal Detection I am involved in.

Then there are the CDs, as I mentioned earlier here, I've acquired that you don't even know about by killer bands you've never even heard of from the 80's and early 90's (that's right, Steve, not even you) that are ultra rare and ultra collectable.

I will not discuss or mention how I acquired them or the origins of all of the bands. But it's stuff that sounds as good and sometimes better than Crue, Ratt, Dokken and Warrant combined.

To be blunt, Christian and Steve, from what I have read in your comments above, you guys are amateur collectors at best, no offense intended.

Please, boys, do not get me wrong. I admire your site, Steve, and your guitar playing, Christian, but both of you are just scratching the surface as you are stuck in the popular mainstream of Metal and Glam Metal.

I've moved way beyond it.

Happy Hunting, Glam Metal Kidz!
January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I saw the following bands last year:
Dream Theater/Iron Maiden
Alice Cooper
Firehouse/Warrant/Bret Michals

I have two kids that went to Kiss and Alice Cooper so the prices were triple for me.

The prices are nuts, I paid $5.50 to see Kiss in 1977 and $9.00 to see pink Floyd on the Animals tour. I am fortunate and can afford to go but at $50-60+ per seat it's tough. My kids 16 and 21, want to go see the old bands, they tell me that for the most part there are no good new bands to see.

I download music if i really want to check out a band and then buy it from their website if it is possible. I like a lot of old music that is out of print and feel lucky to find it at all to find it anywhere.
January 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterguitarmike
Like Steve from heavy Metal Addiction, I try and do a lot of research on a band before buying the CD. most bands stream the vast majority of their albums before they are released. I am a big fan of Amazon for ther MP3's. They are a sometimes a 41 cheaper plus they always have $5 albums every month. that is how I got the Bruce Kulick and Alice In Chains among others.
Concertwise, I have gotten picky on what to see.I usually do more club shows than anything. That and I try to avoid Live Nation since those pricks add $5 just for the privilege of buying the ticket at the window.
January 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterscott whitt

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I laid it out for Christian and Steve, you all are just barely scratchin' the surface.

Face the music, boys.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Great Post. I add this Post to my bookmarks.
March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJarysnaro
The only downloading i ever do is off of itunes that you acually pay for it. id rather have the cd. like i jsut almost bought metallicas ep off of itunes but then it was released to cd for like 5 bucks. and i do watch concert ticket prices. but also go to as much as i can,
January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDevin

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