Thursday, July 21, 2005

DualDisc: In God's name, why?

I just bought my first CD/DVD DualDisc yesterday. (Carly Simon's new Moonlight Serenade album -- her fourth collection of standards, not the best of the four, but still highly listenable.) My reaction, as it was before I ever bought a DualDisc is: Why?

Oh, I know why. The music labels are so worried about sinking CD sales that they'll leap at anything. They think the sales drop is because of Internet downloading, but it's not -- it's because CD prices are too high, and because too much of today's music sucks. Get a good artist with a good album and sales are just fine.

The bigger problem, of course, is pricing. It says something when the average full-length movie on DVD costs less than the average new CD. If anything, the two-hour movie (plus lots of extras) should cost more than the 60-minute CD, but nooooo, CD prices remain at $17.99 or so. It's not like when I was a kid, when $3.99 bought just about any single-disc album you wanted. Kids can afford albums for four bucks, and lots of them; when CDs are fifteen bucks or more, even at a discount, kids are going to buy fewer of them -- or download them instead. It's high prices that are killing the business.

Instead of simply lowering prices, however (which would be the logical and market-responsive thing to do), the labels instead searched for a way to justify their high prices. Which leads us to the DualDisc, which is a two-sided disc with the normal audio CD on one side and a DVD of some sort on the other. The DVD typically features music videos, "making of" documentaries, computer extras (whatever that means), web links, and the entire album in surround sound format. Big fucking deal. I buy a CD because I want to listen to the music, not because I want to watch some lame "behind the scenes" video. I'll listen to my new Carly Simon CD, a lot, but I'll never turn it over to watch what's on the DVD side. Never. It's a waste of... well, of something, and it doesn't justify paying a single penny more. A really stupid idea.

And I'm not the only who thinks so. I asked my two nephews, age 14 and 16, what they thought about DualDiscs. First, neither had heard of them, which says something. Second, after I explained it to them, they both said it sounded stupid. "I don't buy CDs to watch videos," one of them said. So it's not just a generational thing. Once again, the music industry has their collective heads up their collective bungholes.

If the music industry really wants to fix what ails them, they'll lower CD prices. Price all new CDs at $9.99 and sales will go through the roof. You don't need fancy research to prove this one out. It's all about the price, and what consumers can afford -- or are comfortable paying. A ten-buck CD is a lot more attractive than a fifteen-buck one, that's blatantly obvious.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

No comments: