Arnold Kling

Music Storage

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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In my insightful but overlooked TechCentralStation column, I did not make precise the calculations underlying my claim that hard disk drives make CD's obsolete as music storage devices. With help from a site called, which seems to keep the identity of its authors uncertain, I can be more specific.

The first piece of information that Disenchanted provides is the current capacity of a typical hard drive--40 gigabytes. Next, Disenchanted estimates that one minute of music compressed as MP3 requires one megabyte. Putting these figures together, a typical hard drive has a capacity of 40,000 minutes of music. If a typical CD gives you 80 minutes of music for $15, then a hard drive with pre-loaded music would be worth $7500. In other words, CD's have become a really expensive way to distribute pre-loaded music, compared to hard drives. What the music industry is struggling against is not copyright theft--it's the obsolescence of the CD.

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