I got hammered last night. I mean, really hammered. I feel like dog vomit today. The day is half gone already, and only now am I able to touch the keyboard without causing shooting pains behind my eyes. And I won’t tell you how my stomach feels because it would be too disgusting, even for you.
Being unable to think straight, I had no good ideas for what to write today. And then Raven S. sent me a couple of links that gave me the idea for what you’re now reading. They’re links to what must be the most expensive digital albums on Bandcamp, and therefore probably the most expensive digital albums ever.
The first album is by a band whose name sounds like a noise I made a few minutes ago when my stomach turned a particularly nasty flip-flop. Vorbkt are from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Their latest Bandcamp release from April 2014 is entitled Tragedy, and it’s available on Bandcamp for free. But their first demo from January 2009 costs $1,000 for a digital download. The name of that one is La Mort d’echantillon. Its cover appears to be an altered version of a painting I recognized — The Suicide, by Edouard Manet. Which is fitting, because that’s what I’ve been contemplating all morning.
At slightly more than 25 minutes in length, La Mort d’echantillon costs about $40 per minute. That’s some pricey listening. Of course, you can listen for free because the album is available for streaming on Bandcamp, but if you want to carry it around with you wherever you go, that’s going to run you $1,000.
The next album is by a band from the UK named Writhe. Which, again, is fitting since writhing in agony is pretty much how I’ve spent most of the morning, while contemplating suicide.
Writhe’s latest release, from just a few days ago, is a single song named “The Shrouded Grove”. It’s about 10 minutes long, and it will cost you £666 for a download, which at current exchange rates comes to $1,105.53. That edges out the Vorbkt demo, and especially since it’s only a single song, I think we can all agree that it qualifies as a true luxury item.
Now you might think that Writhe and Vorbkt set these eye-popping prices because they wanted to stream the music but didn’t want to make it available for download — and they hadn’t figured out that it’s possible to simply disable the download option on Bandcamp. I, on the other hand, think they were shrewdly attempting to turn their songs into Veblen goods!
In economics, the law of demand holds that as the price of a product increases, the quantity demanded will fall (all other things being equal). But a “Veblen good” (named after economist Thorstein Veblen) is one that defies the law of demand. To quote The Font of All Human Knowledge:
“Some types of luxury goods, such as high-end wines, jewelry, designer handbags, and luxury cars, are Veblen goods, in that decreasing their prices decreases people’s preference for buying them because they are no longer perceived as exclusive or high-status products. Similarly, a price increase may increase that high status and perception of exclusivity, thereby making the good even more preferable.”
So, for you readers out there who consume such things as the most expensive beer ever made and drive to the corner market for cigs in a Lamborghini Veneno, these downloads are for you!
There must be other examples of Veblen goods on Bandcamp, but I’m feeling too ill to search them out. I’m also feeling too sick to listen to these spendy releases by Vorbkt and Writhe. Maybe you’ll tell me whether they’re any good. But please speak very softly.
It’s not the most expensive beer in the world, but I am proud to have had a Westvleteren beer. It’s one of the rarest and highest rated beers in the world. Near impossible to find, but so damn good!
Had to look up that beer. Where in the world were you able to find it? Looks like it’s rare for those monks to sell it outside the abbey.
My brother is a beer junkie and was able to order some, don’t know how. I received one for Christmas from him like 2 years ago. Seriously impressive beer 🙂
Westy 12 is actually available online for 9.33 Euros at the moment. Shipping from Belgium isn’t cheap though. Works out to about $10 a beer when you order about 12 750 ml bottles.
If I’m not mistaken, Veblen actually opened for a few shows Vorbkt played around Ontario last year.
nah, vorbkt is actually a one man studio band. he’s never played live
Come for metal, get economics and beer. You never disappoint.
The day a Saturday post doesn’t mention Islander’s raging hangover is the day I become Jesus.
Friday nights are just yawning chasms of self-destruction that for some reason I’m unable to resist jumping into.
It would then probably help you to remember that there are hippos on the floor of such chasms – hippos that sweat a disgusting pink.
You’re supposed to make the yawning chasms seem LESS tempting, not MORE SO.
if i’m going to pay $1,000.00 for an album it should at least come with a t-shirt. hmmph.
That doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Maybe with a button, or a logo patch that says I PAID $1,000 FOR THIS ALBUM
Well, related to the “Veblen Good” theory, high-priced goods strive for your attention. In case of these streams that succeeded: at least for a couple of hours they are featured on the front page of The Greatest Metal Blog ™. An honour unlikely to be bestowed upon these artists had they chosen a reasonable price or even Bandcamp’s “name your price” mode. This may sound a bit nasty but I wouldn’t even download this stuff for free.
It’s Sunday and I feel much better, but having read your comment I’m thinking that to preserve my health it may still be best that I don’t listen to the streams in this post.
On top, they also were lucky that the Chief Editor was weakened by some intoxicating liquids. I just realized that in this state, it can be financially dangerous to browse through Bandcamp, hitting the Buy Now button light-heartedly.
I’m just lucky that I visited these Bandcamp pages on Saturday morning instead of Friday night.
During the past academic year I took 2 courses in institutional economic theory, which is the branch of economic thought that traces its roots to Veblen, at one of the few heterodox economics departments in the country where that sort of thing is treated seriously, or at all. It is pleasantly surprising to find him mentioned here.
For the life of me, I can’t remember where I first came across Veblen, though I don’t think it was in the few economics classes I took in college. Closely related to Veblen goods are “Giffen goods” — where the demand also rises as prices rise, but for different and sort of tragic reasons:
Can’t remember where I came across this theory either. 🙂
Yeah, Giffen goods will usually be mentioned in a standard microeconomics course, at least at the intermediate level if not in an introductory course.
The phrase that most famously originates with Veblen is “conspicuous consumption,” which is consuming goods and services in a manner sufficiently public to display to your peers your higher wealth or status. It comes from his book “The Theory of the Leisure Class” which is his book that a person is most likely to read. But I think in most universities you are more likely to encounter it in a sociology course rather than in an economics course.
Oops, I meant to reply to your comment above. Tricky buttons.
A famous phrase — though I’m not sure I knew he originated it. I’m now really wracking my brain trying to remember where I first learned a few things about Veblen — I do remember reading excerpts from “The Theory of the Leisure Class”. Maybe it was in college after all.