January 12, 2009
Let's start with a hypothetical situation: say...a certain person quits his job to move across the country almost simultaneously with one of history's most dramatic economic crises. And just for the sake of argument, let's say that he moves to an especially hard-hit city, where the number of unemployed has risen over 36% since April, with more to come, very soon, and where even some braindead phoning/filing temp job feels like a crazy pipe dream. I mean, that lousy gig about ten years ago, opening and sorting tens of thousands of incoming electric bills? The one a monkey could have done except it would have been considered cruel to the monkey? Well, that job wouldn't sound all that terrible right about now! And we probably have to add that a certain lovely gal is having absolutely none of the plan (using the vaguest possible meaning of the word) to grind out the $8/$16 Texas hold-em game over in Renton.
Well...it's time to sell off some crap!
Because when you have no steady income and you're surrounded by piles of books and CDs, and when bars only accept cash money in exchange for alcohol (an absolute necessity in this town, because as much as you logically understand about the rain and lack of sunshine and the occasional foot of snow that shuts down your part of the city for nine freaking days, that's very different from actually living it day after day after day, which is why dive bars here are packed on early weekday afternoons), well...it's time to exchange that crap for some spending money. And for me, that's involved way too much time spent on Amazon, hoping somebody will buy my forsaken discs.
It's a fascinating world, the Amazon Marketplace, pure up-to-the-second capitalism in action. I can think of half-a-dozen related topics worth writing about, such as the often-cutthroat battle for "Low Price." (Like how for the past six weeks I've been leapfrogging with two guys on this one CD, going from $16 down to about $8, a nickel at a time; it would scare me to figure out what my hourly rate will be if I ever actually sell this apparently completely unwanted CD.) But what's really been on my mind lately is the search for the most resold CD on Amazon, looking for one that's passed the magical 1000 figure.
So what does it take to rack up massive resales on Amazon, for hundreds and hundreds of people to offer to sell a CD at a price as low as one shiny penny? The first step towards an album being unwanted is that, at one point, it must have been wanted. For example, you're probably not familiar with the Kevin Rowland album "My Beauty," having lost track of him after Dexys Midnight Runners disbanded. Well, apparently by the late 90's Mr. Rowland decided that the world had had its fill of incredibly catchy Celtic folk/soul songs, and was dying for an album of covers including "The Greatest Love of All," "Daydream Believer," and "You'll Never Walk Alone." And if that wasn't enough, he would appear on the album cover and in subsequent concerts in heavy makeup and horrendous drag, barely wearing a dress and showing off acres of nipples.
Well, that album sold about 750 copies in its first three months of release and sales probably didn't pick up much after that. It's fairly unlikely that everybody who owns one is will simultaneously decide that they must have that that thing out of their house right this second and put it up for resale. In fact, "My Beauty" is somewhat of a collector's item, and you could probably pick up at least $30 if you had one.
Of course, it's not the opposite either, as many of the most popular CDs remain popular. CDs by artists such as The Eagles The Beatles, Nirvana, Radiohead, etc. tend not to be as often resold for the obvious reason that people want those. What I'm looking for is the list of the most dumpable, the ones that people are looking to get practically nothing in return and still think that's a fair deal. So what follows is my very possibly incomplete Top 15 list of popular music's orphans, the most currently resold CDs as of right now.
- "Cracked Rear View" by Hootie & The Blowfish: 958
- "Monster" by R.E.M.: 754
- "Titanic" Soundtrack: 724
- "Ricky Martin" by Ricky Martin: 681
- "Pieces of You" by Jewel: 651
- "Backstreet Boys" by Backstreet Boys: 645
- "Big Willie Style" by Will Smith: 637
- "Pocket Full of Kryptonite" by Spin Doctors: 608
- "No Strings Attached" by *N Sync: 588
- "Bodyguard" Soundtrack: 587
- "Tubthumper" by Chumbawumba: 575
- "Come on Over" by Shania Twain: 567
- "Supernatural" by Santana: 562
- "Yes I Am" by Melissa Etheridge: 560
- "The Sign" by Ace of Base: 528
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