Time For More On The CD

The music business is experiencing a recession where record sales
are reaching all-time lows. All record companies have in the last
few years experienced a considerable decrease in sales. Finding
the cause or causes of this has naturally become a major concern
for all of them.
Some blame the recession in the West in general, but that can
hardly explain why one industry is losing out so much more than
Music today is less from the heart than it used to be only ten
years ago. It is mostly a purely commercial product to be used up
and thrown away. A lot of modern music has a short but intense
life span. People are not prepared to pay as much for a
'disposable' product as they are for a 'reusable'. The hit song
of the week is fed to us all through radio and TV so intensely
that we need not buy the record. And when it is no longer
broadcasted no one remembers it.
Attempts to change this and promote more quality, depth and
originality in music have not been very successful. The whole
entertainment business is ruled by trends and, quality seems to
have gone out of style
To simply lower the price of a CD is a commonly suggested
solution, naturally advocated by the buyers. But no business
favors such a remedy. Not only since it reduces their income but
also because it sends out the wrong signals to people. It gives
the impression that the product is worth less and that the
customers have been charged too much before. And if the price can
drop by ten per cent this year people might expect it to drop
another ten per cent next year.
A better settlement could be enhancing the product and giving
people more for their money. Thanks to modern technology there
can be so much more included on a CD than just music. A computer
with a CD-ROM drive, which is becoming quite common, allows us to
read several different kinds of information off a CD. A short
interview with the artist or 'behind the scenes' features can be
included as so called 'Quicktime movies'. Lyric sheets,
discographies, extensive biographies and even sheet music can
also be added easily. Text files have such small memory
requirements compared to sound that the Bible can be stored in
less space than a normal length song! There have already been
several Cds released which include a lot of this, maybe it is
time to make it a standard feature.
Since the Internet is also becoming more available to the
public several artists have got their own homepage with news and
up to date information. These homepages could be elaborated
considerably and come to include games and interactive programs.
Such programs may let you make your own mix of your favorite song
and you could also download sound samples, or MIDI files which
will play on a keyboard plugged into your computer.
The most interesting parts of these homepages could be made
available to 'fans only'. To access it you would need an
application program or hard disk authorization available only on
the CD. If the customers start visiting the home page more
frequently the record companies also have an excellent
opportunity to market miscellaneous merchandise and even other
artists. That would be extremely desirable in times of a
decreasing market.
If people feel they are paying too much for a CD and the price
cannot be lowered there is only one solution: the product must be
enhanced! In order for record companies to survive into the next
century it is time for them to evolve.