It’s been just over a year since I posted the last of the five previous ‘Guide to Being a Music Reviewer’ posts. I’ve been busy, launching my own site – Aural Aggravation – while drowning in emails with downloads and streams, offering interviews and live shows, and wading through endless CD. To be clear, I’m certainly not complaining about any of this. But equally, I’m not getting rich off any of this: my reviews for other sites are unpaid, and Aural Aggravation is ad-free as a matter of principle.
Generally, I keep the CD I get sent if they’re any good, the bulk of the remainder I donate to charity shops. However, occasionally, I will find I’m running out of space and stick a handful up on eBay (though I’m always mindful never to list anything prior to release date, or even until a fair while after so as not to take potential sales from the artist). I tend to start all of my sales with a .99p starting bid, because ultimately, it’s more about getting rid of stuff than profiteering.
Now, it’s not often I’ll gripe about specific personal matters, but on this occasion, it feels appropriate, given that it ties in with the broader issue of the economics of music reviewing, the music industry and beyond.
Earlier this week I sold an album with a sole bid at .99p. Three days after the auction closed, the buyer paid through PayPal with the message ‘second class post is fine.’ So the following day, in my lunch break, I went to the post office and sent it by second class post (and obtained proof of posting, of course).
Two days later, I received the following message:
so pleased with cd but was about to register my dissatisfaction with postage and system refers me back to you.,,,,i find 1 pound 50p excessive for a 72p stamp and a recycled jiffy….over 100% mark up on postage
I was rather miffed by this. 100% markup on the postage itself, maybe – at least on the face of it – but in context, the complaint seemed, well, just a bit twatty. But of course, the customer is always right, supposedly, and so I elected for diplomacy and replied as follows:
I’m sorry you’re unhappy with the cost of P&P.
I charge a flat rate p&p for CDs, although actual costs do vary. For example, ones in jewel cases etc. tend to come in heavier, and I usually use first class, which is (on average) around £1.25-1.65. I always recycle jiffies, not simply for economy to me, but to keep packaging costs down for buyers, and for the good of the environment.
However, you did advise in your delivery instructions that second class was fine. I therefore used second class as requested, hence the lower cost of the stamp.
I would add that eBay take 15p in fees off the 99p sale price of the CD, and another 10p in fees for my p&p costs postage. PayPal in turn deduct 28p on a transaction of £2.49, meaning I make on average 71p per CD (ignoring the cost of tape, etc, and the time it takes to pack and post it), although granted, on this occasion, I’ll have made £1.41.
That said, I’m willing to refund you 70p if you so wish.
I genuinely believed he would be shamed into making a deal of 70p, given that he’d purchased a fairly recent album, in mint conditions and with a press release thrown in, for £2.49, within 48 hours of making payment.
Instead, he accepted the offer, saying “that would be appreciated”.
It’s more than I can say for his custom. If you want to get rich, don’t become a music reviewer.
eBay: where tossers shop for bargains and complain that their bargain wasn’t quite bargain enough